evisceratedbyasianhorror

4

Hansel & Gretel, a 2007 South Korean horror/fantasy film directed by Yim Pil-sung concerns a man, Eun-Soo, who, when driving and arguing with his pregnant girlfriend on the phone, swerves off the road. He passes out but is woken up by a strange girl who leads him to a beautiful house deep in the forest. It is lovely, cozy, and has everything a child would want. However, Eun-Soo must get back to his family, but is unable to leave. Soon, he unravels the dark secrets of the house and its inhabitants… Some elements of interest include a religious fanatic, Christmas spirit, rabbits, trinkets, implied rape, and of course, fairytales. 

The characters have their own strange quirks. The atmosphere is very unsettling throughout. It makes no use of cheap jump scares, but plays out like an emotional and heart-wrenching horror story similar to J.A. Bayona’s The Orphanage. There are also minor elements of fantasy, and the film makes use of  whimsical background instrumentals similar to Danny Elfman’s compositions in Edward Scissorhands. And also, there is finally, a male protagonist! Filmmakers prefer to seek out female protagonists who are able to convey their emotional and caring side, however, in this film, a male character is equally capable of such “feminine” emotions. 

This film is not particularly scary, but it is enjoyable and very intriguing. Every anomaly makes the viewer wonder what exactly is going on in the household, and will keep their attention to the end. The cinematography is well done. It is a very colorful film, perhaps too colorful, and the plot is fresh and new, as there are no obvious cliches. I recommend horror fans to watch this with a different perspective.  

~S.L.

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4
Though Barking Dogs Never Bite, a Korean dark comedy film directed by Bong Joon-ho, is technically not a horror movie, it was for some reason in the horror section in Netflix, and because it is a great film, I may as well bring it to your radar. This film is a tad difficult to summarize, so according to Netflix, “Driven to distraction by a dog yapping endlessly in a nearby apartment, Yun-ju – a college lecturer who’s already stressed by his pregnant wife’s nagging and his slim chances of landing a professorship – takes action to silence the animal. Soon other dogs in the apartment complex fall strangely quiet, and the landlord’s bookkeeper sets out to find out why." There is no central character, as the plot of the film revolves around a few seemingly unrelated but interesting characters who each have their own unique personality and goals in life.                                                                                                                                         The story involves an aspiring humanities professor, bribery, a bookkeeper with a hunger for fame, dogs(of course), a domineering pregnant wife, a homeless man with a heart of gold, hunger for a "certain” type of meat, and sun-dried radishes.                                                                                                          The film is very charming, utilizing casual piano jazz music to remind viewers that it’s a comedy when things begin to seem tense or frightening. It is well paced, incredibly interesting, I highly recommend this to everyone, especially because it is no generic film but something that stands out on its own. (though I’m not sure if I’m qualified enough to say that, as I am not too familiar with the satirical comedy genre in Asian cinema.)

~S.L.

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