A stranger arrives in a little village and soon after a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman is drawn into the incident and is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter.
**A father's struggle to see his daughter to get well.**
A new film from the writer, director of 'The Chaser' and 'The Yellow Sea'. This time its a horror-thriller that focused on a rural police officer who witnesses a series of strange events escalating fears among its people. The original title was 'Goksung', which means the name of the village where this story takes place. This film is specially for those who like Korean films. But I'm sure that everyone would enjoy it equally. Very typical Korean film yet an engaging theme and thrilling, particularly towards the final quarter.
The opening, and almost the first act were like a black comedy. That does remain same after sometime. Because they wanted to give an impression what kind of person is this story's lead man. He's a cop, but feared of supernatural stuffs. So one day, he gets an early morning call to head where a family was slaughtered by one of its members. In his small village, with a small population, events like this are very rare, but when another similar incident was reported, ruled out what it was considered, but something else beyond humans.
After the strange dreams, he comes to know his family too got affected by it, particularly his young daughter. Followed by when it gets serious issue, the family decides to bring in a shaman and so the ceremony begins to free her from whatever possessed. This is where the film turns more aggressive in revealing following event with twists and turns. The rest of the film should be watched to know how it all ends.
The first thing was the film length. It was too long, nearly 150 minutes, but the screenplay filled with many enthralling scenes and dialogues. So I don't think sitting for that long would be an issue for most of the people. Surely you will be on your seat edge most of the time on your watch. Good story, but very confusing. I mean not puzzling way, but the events and its characters, especially the conclusion which is not exactly a perfect one with proper detail. So you might look for some clarifications after watching the film.
> "If you go fishing, do you know what you'll catch? He's just fishing. Not even he knows what he'll catch."
The concept was a little confusing like what kind of horror is this. At one stage there comes a zombie, but it follows right after an exorcism on a girl possessed by a ghost. The writer used the time as long as he wants to develop them. So the narration was slow, but very steady on its direction going deep. If you are good at Korean films, the style they make, you might predict some of the scenes correctly. Like I said the final few minutes might confuse you, but really well done part if you understand that clearly.
The film characters wise, I liked how it all connected at the end. But as a story, the solution did not seem right. I think not the fitting one or more convincing. I know who would you root, I mean most of you back what character, so from that perspective, feels it compromised a bit after put up a stern fight with what they had believed. I liked how culturally this story was narrated. I mean as its set in a small village, the ceremonies to fight the evil spirit was conducted traditional way, not the western style, except it opened with a quote from the bible.
The actors were perfect, particularly I liked where it was shot. A fine location to mix horror and cop themes. The suspense keeps the film alive, but you won't always looking at that, because the theme expands quite bigger than you expect. There are some unexpected turns, you might find yourself scratching your head for how deep it could go.
Don't worry, in the end, it all comes together, or maybe watching it twice could help you with that. As I said the runtime might not favour you for the second viewing. Besides, pay a good attention while watching it for the first time, then you will get everything. Particularly if you are an animal lover, that's a biggest clue you could get in this film.
I think it will be one of the best horror you would find around the world this year. It might get remade elsewhere, but the chances are less and it could remain as one of the Korean classics in the line of many others like 'Memories of Murder'. You don't have to be a Korean film fan or this director's, but if you do, surely you will have an advantage in understanding it clearly and like it more than the others. Definitely it is one of the best Korean films, but I don't think so a must see, not according to me. Though I won't conclude my review without recommending it to you. So I say watch it.
Fox International Productions, Ivanhoe Pictures, 20th Century Fox Korea, Side Mirror by Hong-jin Na.
Stars: Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang, Do-won Kwak.
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Keywords: small town exorcism investigation daughter police possession murder priest curse rural area shaman zombie demon shrine ghost gluttony folk horror acupuncture divination
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