Missing DVD Review
Directed by Sung-Hong Kim
2009, Region 2 (PAL), 99 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 31st January 2010
There is something supremely scary about Asian horror films that the rest of the world just cannot master. In their mouths even the most mundane of dialogue becomes considered and powerful, perhaps because of their wide eyed features or harsh sounding voices. The scares seem to have an authenticity only mirrored in our worst nightmares; maybe because their lives are steeped in traditions and folklore that they truly believe, that’s untouched by the cynicism I am used to. Based on a true story, this is one Korean kidnapping movie I’ve been eager to see.
Our killer Pan-kon has two very different sides. He isn’t one of those psychos who skulk around in the darkness, only briefly daring to go outside to grab themselves another fresh piece of meat. He is fairly sociable, looks after his ill mother and doesn’t look like he smells bad at all. He is confident and cheerful, almost to the point where perhaps he has convinced himself he is above the law and has nothing to fear. The most perfect kind of psychopath.
Pretty and affluent Hyeon-a travels across the country with her boyfriend and pays a visit to a chicken farm to sample the local soup. That’s just asking for trouble. They stay for a few days and, on one unassuming sunny afternoon, the boyfriend helps out the farmer with some heavy lifting in his shed. The moment his back is turned a wire is wrapped around his throat and while he struggles pointlessly, blood pours from him impressively.
Hyeon-a walks in on the bloodbath but Pan-kon doesn’t kill her – he has other plans where she is concerned. He keeps her in a cage for a while and after hosing her down with some water he brings out a cake with three candles on top, telling her that she is his third. Whether he means his third overall victim or third pet girl it is not made clear at this point.
Very soon her sister Hyeon-jeong comes looking for her. As is usual in these circumstances the police aren’t interested in missing persons cases, but their hapless nature provides some light relief in the story.
The undeniably yucky rape scenes are handled expertly, with only slightly more explicitness than can be displayed without being completely over the top. And there is a painful torture scene which means I will never be able to go to the dentist ever again. There are gut wrenchingly shocking moments where scenes of bloodshed are interspersed with beautifully shot flashbacks to the victim’s happier times. Other scenes will leave even the most hardened gore fans weeping.
In a contrast to most films of this type, many of the scenes were filmed during the day. Even in the dark barn, the sun can be seen shining through the wooden slats. This could be seen as a glimmer of hope, or just a mean taunt at the victim’s salvation or any hope of rescue. There is also a lesson to be learned from this film; stick your nose in where it’s not wanted or get too greedy and you might just get bitten on the arse. Or have your teeth pulled out with some pliers, one of the two.
Video and Audio:
The colours are bright and crisp and the sound is rich. Korean 2.0 or 5.1 with English subtitles.
Just a trailer and teaser but they represent the film perfectly.