Friday, 5 September 2014

KOFFIA MOVIE REVIEW: HIDE AND SEEK (SUMBAKKOKJIL)




5/5

A successful middle class family from Seoul find themselves visiting poor suburbs with unexpected consequences. The head of the family Seong-Soo is a stitched up bourgeois, suffering from mysophobia (the fear of containing germs) and guilt for abandoning his brother and letting him live in absolute poverty. It is the reason why Seong-Soo finds himself so far away from the life of the riches, discovering that his brother is long gone, together with many residents of a run down apartment block. It seems that the killer is on the loose. 

When happy family returns back to the city life, someone is following them from the suburbs. Now Seong-Soo has to uncover the mystery of his brother’s disappearance in time to save himself and the people he loves.

The first interesting thing about HIDE AND SEEK, a low budget Korean mystery / horror flick, which has become one of the highest grossing films of the last year in its home country, is how unlikable the protagonists are. We are meeting the elegant, but detached with reality wife, who threatens to leave her husband each time things go wrong; the children are spoilt brats, constantly demanding new toys and fighting with each other and Seong-Soon himself is enclosed in his little world of phobias. This family would not get your sympathies at first. But when bad things happen we see what they are truly capable of and what sort of people they are underneath their skin.

The story is a strong mystery, giving us an atmospheric creepy entry, and is moving on, catching up speed. The identity of the killer is revealed two thirds into the film, leaving the last thirty minutes for a spectacular knuckle biting showdown.


Comfortable middle class life is under threat in HIDE AND SEEEK, and this may be considered an idiom of SOUTH KOREAN society. The country being under the constant siege from it’s neighbour takes toll on everyone. But Director Huh Jung, who had won Korean association Film critic award as a best director for HINDE AND SEEK, is not focused on the outside danger, but gives an insightful image of a society perfect on the surface, but rotten at it’s gore. “The desire for the things we cannot have can drive one to insanity” is a prevailing message of the film. For the fortunate ones with money and power, turning away from the bad and dirty things, does not help solving the problem. Because if you cannot feel secure in the comfortable walls of your luxurious apartment block, then indeed there is no safe place left to hide.

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