Saturday, 5 September 2015

KOREAN MOVIE: MONSTER



4/5

Bok-Soon is a young woman with the mind of a child. Stubborn and strong willed, she suffers from development disability and everyone in the village calls her a "crazy bitch". But she deeply cares about her younger high school sister and works hard to send her to the best Seul university. When Bok-Soon's sister is murdered she is outraged and will do everything she can to avenge her death, which puts her face to face with a cold blooded (and very good looking) psychopath Tae-Soo, a serial killer who makes a pottery out of his victims. Tae-Soo is methodical and almost indestructible, but with Bok-Soon's crazy determination and lack of fear, had he found in her his perfect match? A bloody battle to the end ensures.

MONSTER is a strange mix of comedy and horror and makes for an unforgettable experience. Korean cinema is known for its experiment with genres, and MONSTER is one of the finest examples of that. Film may be predictable in a way, because we know that Bok-Soon will win, but the writers put a wild card into the game, and this will put you right on the edge of your seat.

Film makes it clear in the beginning, that the crazy girl and the killer boy are both monsters, both capable of murder, but on the opposite sides of the scales. Film is full of chase scenes with Bok-Soon barely escaping death each time, and there are some genuine terrifying moments. The ending is bloody and not for the faint hearted. I would have preferred a more gimmicky sort of a battle, the likes of American horror films where the "final girl" faces the masked psycho, but the final battle in MONSTER is animal-like and does not seem heroic in any way.

MONSTER creates mysterious atmosphere, with dark forests and foggy villages at play. But the bright lights of Seul and its crowded streets make for even more dangerous setting.

MONSTER created characters with individuality and the ones you truly care about. Even serial killer can be understood in a way, and even if he is put beyond redemption early in the film, some of his actions seem justified. 

MONSTER was highly criticised by its misogynistic approach to the empowerment of women in modern Korea,  but for me it was about the family's love ties and also family issues, that in equal measure may awaken a monster in all of us.

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