Fantasia 2017: The House of the Disappeared (South Korea, 2017)




Lim Dae-Woong’s The House of the Disappeared is a remake of The House at the End of Time (2013, Alejandro Hidalgo), which showed at Fantasia in 2014. Lim’s version is as well done as the original, but not treated in an identical manner. The original is a psychological suspense story, and is good at building anticipation in a quiet, creeping manner. It doesn’t have much frill or special effects. Lim’s creation is more of a horror-thriller, and therefore throws in a few expected Hollywood style jump-scares, and certain stylistic ‘staged’ sets (such as very decoratively arranged cobwebs). However, the director claims to be a funny guy, and added a few lighter, silly moments to Continue reading


Fantasia 2017: The Senior Class (Hong Deok-Pyo, South Korea)



Jung-Woo has a crush on his art school’s best student, Ju-Hee. Ju-Hee makes very little conversation with her classmates, instead focusing on her ultimate goal. She will travel to France to further her art studies no matter the obstacles. When Jung-Woo discovers how exactly Ju-Hee makes ends meet, it gives him the opportunity to get closer to the object of his affection. But as with most stories of young love, things don’t go smoothly. Though we might think peer bullying and gossip abound in high school, Hong Deok-Pyo’s The Senior Class shows that this exists even among college students. Since these youngsters are on the brink of becoming adults, this is exactly where angst and conflict arise.

Where there is a secret, there is always someone willing to spread his or her knowledge – even if not entirely accurate. The power of the rumor is something we’ve seen in other Korean films such as Old Boy (2003, Park Chan-Wook). Ju-Hee’s secret eventually spreads, even if it was no fault of Jung-Woo’s. Desperate to graduate with her Continue reading

The Handmaiden (South Korea, 2016)



Controversial Korean director Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, Thirst) new extravaganza, The Handmaiden (Ah-ga-ssi), is a tale set during Korea’s occupation by Japan.

As part of a giant scam, a girl posing as a maid is introduced into a wealthy house in order to cheat a secluded heiress. But the plan brings unexpected and dangerous alliances…

The Handmaiden is a beautiful piece with an odd feel. But to patiently set the tone of the various evolving phases of the story, Chan Wook settles on a curious pace that is overly intricate by taking shape through numerous flashbacks and Continue reading

FANTASIA 2016 : The Piper (Kim Gwang-tae – South Korea)



The Piper is of course, a take on the classic story about a flute player who drives rats out of town, only to send them back when the townspeople betray him. Only, this town is peculiar, and people are not as they seem.

Attractive landscapes, creepy ambiance, and some CGI vermin all add Continue reading

FANTASIA 2016 : Train to Busan (Yeon Sang-ho – South Korea)



A thrill ride, that’s what Train to Busan is. Though Yeon Sang-ho’s first foray into live action picks up where animated feature Seoul Station left off, each film can be watched independently of one another. Perhaps it is fitting that the live action Busan is at times, cartoonish. Its characters are stereotypes (businessman/lousy father, high school girl crushing on the nicest boy in a gang of jocks, etc.), but they are well played stereotypes. Zombie flicks are often cheesy, aren’t they? So when Busan shifts its action-packed sequences and creepy body horror to an overly dramatized trope about daughter teaching dad how to act like a proper human being, it’s a bit expected.

As with most zombie-themed movies, a snicker here or there is inevitable. The tone may be somewhat serious, but the subject matter is a bit far flung to start with. Walking dead don’t exist as far as science is concerned. So this barely-believable premise is right to not take itself completely seriously. The result in Busan is Continue reading