by Melissa Uhrin
One of the main characteristics of Korean horror films is the focus on the anguish and suffering of the characters rather than filling our senses with blood, gore and all the awesomeness that goes hand in hand within the generalized horror genre. Every movie that I watched for this piece most definitely abides by that rule, although a couple managed to combine all the elements for an added bonus.
What kicked off my newfound love was a recent discovery: Yeon Sang-ho's Train to Busan (2016). Starring Gong Yoo as the over-worked and somewhat distant and neglectful father Seok-woo to Su-an (played by Kim Su-an), he promises to take her on the train to Busan to be with her mom for her birthday. As the train departs the station, we glimpse fast moving blurs that are all too familiar, within moments discover that an infected person has managed to make it on the train, and before long we are face to face with a fast-changing and fast-moving zombie plague aboard a steel tube. With zombies being the trend over the past few years, this had the potential to fall among the ranks of just another boring virus-turns-you-into-brain-eating-monster movie. But these dicks were quick to transform, contorted bodies were in abundance and there was just something deeply unsettling about those vacant whitish blue eyes in contrast with their Korean features. What has remained with me is the story of the father and daughter at the centre, and the side stories of a few of their fellow train travellers in their quest for survival.
I tend to do this to myself and watch the best movies first and find I grasp at thin air trying to find something comparatively moving to keep the euphoric high that only a profound cinematic experience can bring. I managed to find some pretty decent movies to write about, but none had the impact of The Wailing. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Having found my drug of choice, I can revisit it when I please!
The Doll Master (2004, directed by Jeong Yong-ki), is basically what the title promises. A master doll-crafter with the ability to create dolls which possess souls. That’s right, fucking soul-filled dolls. That idea is creepy in itself and the main premise reminded me of House on Haunted Hill in that a group of strangers are brought together by one man with the promise of a doll being created from each of their likeness. Enter the creepy wheelchair woman and a horrifying life-size doll as the centrepiece to each of the guest rooms, you know that this shit is going to come to life in a bloody way. And sticking with the Korean horror style, amidst the murder and bloodshed, there is the haunting tale of a soul that just wants to be loved.
Korean Horror has me by the heart and is not letting go; I am hooked, there's no better way to put it!
Your suggestions; bring them to me.