Hometown Legends (2008) is a series of 8 one-act dramas. It is the continuation of a classic series of ghost stories which aired first on KBS between 1977 and 1989 and later between 1996 and 1999. This marks the return of the series after nine years.
Cast & Credits
I think the most important thing to know about Hometown Legends is that this is truly a mixed bag: genre, style, quality, you name it. These episodes vary widely from one another. If you go in expecting 8 horror episodes, or 8 mysteries, or 8 whatever, you will be disappointed. The overarching theme is simply to have a supernatural element of some sort, I'd say. So maybe the best thing to do here is to attempt to categorize the episodes a bit, and explain why some worked better for me than others, and hopefully that's helpful for someone out there who is deciding whether to watch, and which episodes to watch.
In terms of (subjective) quality/how much I enjoyed them: episodes 1, 3, and 7 are clearly the winners. 4 and 6 were enjoyable, with some flaws that keep them out of the top tier, but I still enjoyed them quite a bit. Episode 5 is the next level down - not my favorite, but okay. The remaining two episodes, 2 and 8, I would not recommend.
In terms of genre, the episodes range from comedy (episode 7!), to almost straight mystery (episode 3), to horror-ish (episodes 4 and 6 are probably the closest). All are sort of a mixture of genres, though, really. Most have elements of mystery and horror, but vary in the ratio. The true oddball of the bunch is episode 7, which I described as a "supernatural caper comedy" in my episode review. It also happens to be my favorite, so go figure. :)
The music also varies widely, but most didn't leave an impression on me, so I'd say it's fine overall. The extremes are episode 7, which had some creative music choices to match its general weirdness (which is to say, it fits the feel of the episode well), and episode 8, which I felt had poorly done, distracting music.
The acting is generally fine, but to go into more detail would take forever. See the episode reviews if you need more. Same for comments on writing and directing, although I will say that I enjoy watching things like this (one-offs, drama specials, etc.) because sometimes it's a glimpse into a director's earlier style, or a chance to see a little more experimentation, I think. Several well-known directors are represented here, all before their better-known works, and it's fun to see how styles change (or don't).
As with the rest, special effects vary widely in their usage and effectiveness. Clearly they were working with a limited budget, but I thought that most of the episodes did pretty well with the special effects. Nothing fancy, obviously, but conveyed what they were meant to convey without looking excessively cheap or cheesy. I think it probably took some skill to decide how best to use effects with a limited budget, and most of the time, it works okay. Sometimes, it didn't work so well, and I would definitely call them cheesy in a few cases (episodes 2, 5, and 8 are by far the worst offenders).
So this is a super-long review. But I just wanted to try to give a fair assessment of the series as a whole, as well as a little comparison of the specific episodes. I didn't really know what I was getting into when I started watching Hometown Legends. The synopses and a vague expectation of ghost stories were all I had to go on. I'm glad I watched it though, and I might even rewatch a couple of the best episodes at some point.