In 2009, Kimmy Dora felt like a sea change in the local industry. Its success meant that the arcane rules of the mainstream didn’t necessarily apply anymore, that the public could embrace a plucky little movie with a talented star that didn’t have much presence on the television. Three years later, and the movie’s sequel seems to make strides in the other direction. Kimmy Dora and the Temple of Kiyeme is bafflingly bad, the charms of the first movie all sapped away as it makes a even bigger bid for the mainstream.
Twin sisters Kimmy and Dora Go Dong Hae (Eugene Domingo) are still at odds with each other, but are generally in a happier place. The two have both gotten lucky at love, each of them being lavished by the attention of a handsome beau. But their happiness is disrupted when their father takes them to Korea, and reveals that one of them must marry the son of the Sang family. Both sisters refuse, and their refusal triggers a long hidden curse. Kimmy is beset by the sound of drums, while Dora begins seeing a ghost at every corner. A vengeful spirit arrives in their home and wreaks havoc on their lives.
The film employs elements of Asian horror, the comedy taking a backseat to the random appearances of a longhaired female ghost. The movie seems to go out of its way to replicate the tropes of the genre, building giant, special effects heavy sequences that have the twin sisters dealing with the ghost. But as the film does this, it forgets about its comedic core. None of this stuff is remotely funny, and the film losing all of its comedic momentum whenever the plot gives its attention to all this overly familiar genre nonsense. There is no sense of satire, and no inclination towards absurdity. In these sequences, the film is pretty much a straightforward Asian horror movie.
Or to be more precise: a badly done Asian horror movie. The opening sequence of the film, which is basically a preview of something that happens later in the movie, is a prime example of how not to do horror. It is jumpily edited, noisy and too reliant on special effects. A bad sound mix derails any chance the film had of feeling the least bit creepy. All of the purported horror in the film follows suit, and it feels like a waste of time. The film is much better at accomplishing its comedic beats, and it’s a shame that the film didn’t try to just be funnier.
At the center of all this is Eugene Domingo, who at this point looks tired playing broad characters. Domingo has the range to accomplish a great many things on screen, her dramatic abilities an even match for her skills as a comedienne. But it doesn’t seem like she gets much opportunity to stretch anymore, and the wear is somewhat showing. It just somehow feels less genuine than before, the actress less connected to her characters.
Whereas Kimmy Dora seemed to have tried to dodge the usual mistakes of the mainstream, Kimmy Dora and the Temple of Kiyeme appears to embrace them. It all feels rushed and perfunctory, relying on the easy signposts of genre rather than the stability of plot. It looks sloppily done, the care simply not put into the artistic aspects of filmmaking, adhering to the assumption that the masses simply don’t care. It is a sad and cynical endeavor that throws away much of what the first film had accomplished.