I’ve seen a couple of Korean movies lately worth commenting on.
Those in Korea are probably too late to see this on the big screen, and those outside Korea may not get a chance, but anyway, Mrs. Jiwaku and I saw the 2013 Korean film The Terror Live this evening.
My general thoughts on The Terror Live were very positive, despite having to make do with my iffy (and waning) Korean-language listening skills. (Probably seeing it at the cinema where we saw it–the Lotte Cinema at Lotte Mart–was the mistake; when I watched another Korean blockbuster a week ago at a different, nicer cinema, it had both Vietnamese and English subtitles.)
By the way, it’s a funny story: a friend of mine actually suggested I check out the movie, if it screened here, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t. However, Mrs. Jiwaku knew about the movie (since it’s sort of on the indie/low budget side of things) and told me it was screening and that she wanted to see it… so, it seems, the stars aligned!
What did I think of the film?
Well, you can see most of my thoughts on the film over at LetterBoxD, where I’m tracking my movie viewing of late. (I ma stop doing so, if they don’t get some embed code for the damned site soon. I only use it because it’s pretty, but I really just want to be able to embed the posters for the films in the sidebar…)
Anyway, in the case of The Terror Live, the only comment I didn’t include there (because it’s a spoiler) was… well, it’s a spoiler, so I’ll put it behind the cut. But all in all, it was a very good film, maybe even a great one (I’ll be able to say when I watch it again with English subtitles).
As for Killer Toon (2013), it was very different sort of film. I don’t know for sure what the budget was, but it felt a lot bigger-budget than The Terror Live, and the quality was a little more, how shall I put it, a little more processed. That’s not to say the film wasn’t very effective–it did a wonderful job of integrating cartoons into the visual texture of a live-action film, and the plot was twisty in the way a lot of spooky films end up having to be these days. Pretty good, though, for a big-budget creepfest, really. (Here’s my mini-review on LetterboxD.)
Also, I feel like there’s a subset of horror films in Korea are (even more than in the States) a measure of just what new stuff has hit the mainstream in terms of pop culture. Maybe not a subset, but… well, occasionally a horror film will signal that, yeah, even middle-aged people know about this pop-cultural thing.
Case in point: yoga was around in Korea probably before the beginning of the 21st century–people I knew were studying yoga as early as 2002 in places outside Seoul, and places outside Seoul seem to lag anywhere from a few years to a decade behind the capital–but it was around 2008 when yoga really hit the mainstream… which is to say, when it suddenly seemed everyone was learning it. And, what do you know: Yoga Hakwon, a (sadly, not very good) yoga-horror movie, was released in 2009. Likewise, “webtoons” (ie. Korean webcomics) have been around for a long time, but lately it seems like even the neophobic older folks know about (and sometimes read) them. So I wasn’t surprised that webtoons ended up being the magical thingie in a new horror film.
I’m wondering when someone will finally make a boy-band or girl-group horror movie. Ooops, wait: looks like I’m a couple of years late on that one! I never did see White: The Melody of the Curse, but it seems that is precisely what it is.
Now, for that spoilery comment on The Terror Live?
While not all ajeoshis are assholes–there’s a certain kind of assholery that is a beloved speciality of the ajeoshi, which involves shouting and throwing his weight around… and if you’ve ever wished an asshole ajeoshi’s head would just explode in the middle of shouting his sentence? If you have, my friend, then The Terror Live is definitely a movie for you.