HIDE AND SEEK (SOOMBAKKOKJIL)
(director/writer: Huh Jung; cinematographer: Kim Il-yeon; editors: Jae-beom Kim/Sang-beom Kim; cast: Mi-seon Jeon (Min-ji), Jung-Hee Moon (Joo-hee), Hyeon-ju Son (Baek Sung-soo), Kim Ji-yeong (Pyaong-hwa), Jeong Joon-won (Ho-seh), Kim Soo-an (Su-ah), Kim Won-hae (Sung-chul); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Kim Eui-sung; Ram Releasing; 2013-South Korea-in Korean with English subtitles)
“It’s entertaining in the creepy way it plays out as a home invasion flick against an unlikable materialistic family.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
First-time Korean director Huh Jung helms a captivating horror thriller despite big plot holes, a wacky premise and an illogical story. It’s entertaining in the creepy way it plays out as a home invasion flick against an unlikable materialistic family.
It tells the odd tale of the withdrawn, obsessive-compulsive, well-off cafe owner and happily married Seoul resident Baek Sung-soo (Hyeon-ju Son), someone with dark secrets from the past, who dwells in a luxury condo apartment in a hi-rise modern complex with his attractive fashion-savvy wife Min-Ji (Mi-seon Jeon) and bratty older adolescent son Ho-seh and spoiled daughter Su-ah (Jeong Joon-won & Kim Soo-an). Sung-soo’ secure life gets unglued when he receives a phone call from a housing manager in a slum just outside of Seoul about his estranged brother, Sung-chul ((Kim Won-hae), going off without paying the rent and visits the building with his family in tow in his luxury car. There Sung-soo discovers that his missing brother served time in jail as a sex offender and has lived in the now abandoned messy apartment for the last two years. It’s also learned through flashbacks that the brother was kicked out by dad for committing some horrific sexual act when he was in high school, as the adopted brother Sung-soo lied about what he witnessed.
Strange symbols are inscribed under the doorbells in the half-empty slum building, a building block designated soon for demolition. Meanwhile the terrified tenants claim a masked person, wearing a motorcycle helmet and clad in all black, is stalking them.
On the eerie visit Sung-soo meets Joo- Hee (Jung-Hee Moon), the strange woman living next door to his missing brother. The unstable woman lives there with her weird patch-eyed young girl Pyaong-hwa (Kim Ji-yeong), and hysterically warns Sung-soo to tell his brother to quit spying on them. After the scary visit, Sung-soo returns to his luxury digs, quite a contrast from the slum, and finds his family is stalked by the same masked psycho. Tension builds as Sung-soo’s family is threatened and mom reacts by calling her mom in the States for an immediate visit with the kids. But before the move, Sung-soo’s home is invaded and destroyed, and there’s a life and death struggle with the mysterious monster intruding in their once serene lives.
The low-budget film is slickly produced and has a way of getting the viewer to suspend belief, as it smoothly lures us into the bizarre violent story by ratcheting up our psychological primal fears about the rumor that the slum building, where the missing brother resides, is swarming with illegal squatters who hide in the apartment’s of the occupants. On its baser level it dishes out the usual horror pic frights of knife splatter gore.
REVIEWED ON 7/15/2014 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/