Director – Pil-Sung Yim
Cast – Jeong-myeong Cheon, Eun Won-jae, Sim Eun-kyung, Ji-hee Jin, Kyeong-ik Kim, Yeong-Nam Jang, Hee-soon Park
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is the newest film from Pil-Sung Yim, a bright director who focuses a lot on cinematography and reminds me a lot of an Asian version of Guillermo Del Toro. Pil-Sung Yim’s previous film, “Antarctic Journal”, established himself as a name to be mentioned when talk of great cinematic horror films are mentioned.
This film follows our lead protagonist, Eun Soo, who is driving down a lonely road on a business trip and then has a pretty bad accident. By the time he regains consciousness, it has become night time and he is forced to wander thru the woods and country roads in an area completely unfamiliar to him. Soon enough, he comes into contact with a young girl walking through the woods. Seeing that he is injured, she leads him to her home so that he may rest up. His astonishment is apparent when he finally sees her home, and meets her family. He feels he is in a fairy tale. The home is beautiful, and full of any toys and sweets that you could possibly imagine. The parents are perfect, and the children are more obedient than fresh soldiers at boot camp. There is something eerie about the family, but Eun Soo cannot figure out what it is. When he asks for a phone, they tell him it is “disconnected”. When he asks them about their jobs, they say they are on “vacation”. The very next morning, he sets off to go back to his car and see what he can do about getting back home to his pregnant girlfriend. However things get even more fishy when the forest seems to never end, and gets as dark as night about an hour after he left the home…in the morning! As if Eun Soo’s luck couldn’t get any worse, the next morning he finds a note from the parents saying they needed to leave and for him to please watch the kids. It is then that he will begin to discover the very dark secret behind the home, the woods, and the children he is now left to baby sit.
This film is interesting, and really surprised me for being an Asian film(South Korean to be exact…). I know I have not seen every single Asian film made, but I have seen a vast amount of them and have never witnessed one that blends horror and fantasy together like this one does. Can you already sense the Guillermo Del Toro influence? This film using amazing cinematography, and really sets the fairy tale “candy apple” influence once things get going. This film starts off with a fairy tale feel to it, and then after maybe 30 minutes of development we start seeing some aspects of horror, which I did not find very scary, but did find very interesting. I personally enjoyed the storyline of this film, and found the acting to be pretty well done for a film with such young child actors.
Although I enjoyed the storyline, this film does what a lot of Asian films tend to do which is keep you confused for an hour and a half and then finally make sense of it all in the last 30 minutes. I still do not understand why they do this…or why it seems to be the standard in Asian culture for a film to be at least two hours long. Very seldom have I found an Asian film that is under two hours. Having a two hour film is not really a bad thing, but it hurts the film when the film should not be two hours, such as this film. I felt the pacing was a bit off, and left the viewer to become a bit agitated and maybe even slightly bored during some scenes. If this film had been trimmed about 20 minutes or so then I’m sure it would be more enjoyable and would do a better job at keeping the viewer glued to the screen. Oh well, maybe these Asian filmmakers make this films so long to make sure that the viewers get their money’s worth for the ridiculous admission prices we pay nowadays.
Overall, this is a good film that although may be a bit slow, offers an interesting story along with great visuals. Check this out if you can find it.