Hide and Seek Movie Review
Written by John Colianni
Released by RAM Releasing
Written and directed by Huh Jung
2013, 107 minutes, Not Rated
Available on VOD on January 15th, 2014
Son Hyun-joo as Sung-soo
Moon Jung-hee as Joo-hee
Jeon Mi-seon as Min-ji
Kim Ji-yeong as Pyeong-hwa
Imagine for just one moment the notion of someone else unknowingly being in your residence when you're not there. You get a sense that something isn't quite right but dismiss it as a bit of paranoia and go about your life. Just the thought of strangers in our domiciles is enough to invest in CCTV equipment, you'll be able to regularly predict your family's bowel movements. Our homes are our sanctuaries; it's the place that most people feel safest. We have the right to defend it and sure as hell cannot stand when someone overstays their welcome. But with all of the entitlements of having a place to call your own, there is an underlying false sense of security. Locking a door and closing all the windows and blinds somehow makes an overwhelming majority of people's domiciles safe and impenetrable. We all know this is not the case and Huh Jung's Hide and Seek plays wonderfully with this idea. Is your home only for you or is there someone else there when you're not?
The film centers around a man, Sung-soo, and his wife and two children, all living in an upscale neighborhood in Seoul. When Sung-soo learns that his estranged brother has gone missing, he goes to begins his search for him at his apartment where he hadn't been in decades. All he is able to find is a place left in shambles and strange markings carved into the doors in the complex, indicating the number of occupants and gender of those living inside. When his trail runs cold and he returns home, Sung-soo notices the same symbols on the doors of his apartment and other subsequent residences. Feeling that his family is in danger from his brother and a grudge they shared from years long past, Sung-soo's paranoia quickly sinks in and realized that he must solve the mystery of where his brother before it is too late.
Suspense is the name of the game in Huh Hung's South Korean thriller. Sometimes when I watch a foreign film, I feel a slight disconnect when drama is trying to be portrayed. It may have to do with the language barrier, but either scenes and dialogue (translated) seem overly dramatic or fall flat when there should be much more emotion. This is not the case with Hide and Seek. All actors involved (hell, even the kids) portray their characters flawlessly. Thrillers such as this do an incredible job of making their audience painfully uncomfortable and uneasy from scene to scene. Much of it has to do with the fact that Hide and Seek is not stylized at all. There is no over-the-top gore or slow-motion killings. There are no characters claiming they will have their vengeance. Because of this, I was able to have a more broad spectrum of emotions throughout the film and still stay interested.
I will say that the climax of Hide and Seek is perfectly satisfying. Without ruining anything, I haven't enjoyed the ending to a film such as this since Old Boy. Director Huh Hung does an amazing job of confusing your senses and taking the plot places you didn't imagine it would go. Predictability is definitely something that plagues modern cinema. If there is no sense of "what will happen next" for viewers, directors may as well be making fifteen-minute long cartoons for strung out kids with ADHD. Even with this being Hung's writing and directorial debut, Hide and Seek will absolutely fill the void for anyone craving a unique plot and strong characters from a genre that hasn't seen enough attention in recent years. Watch, enjoy and quit your incessant bitching about subtitles. You know who you are.
You can click here to see how you can get Hide and Seek On Demand.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.