Acacia DVD Review
Reviewed by Peter West "Danger Seeker"
DVD released by Tartan Films USA
Written and directed by Ki-Hyung Park
Hye-jin Shim as Mi-sook
Jin-geun Kim as Do-il
Oh-bin Mun as Jin-sung
Na-yoon Jeong as Min-ji
When judging a child art competition Mi-sook disregards the entry of a child named Jin-sung because she thinks he had help with the drawing. She then finds out that the child did indeed draw it and that he has been drawing trees since he was told his mother died and become a tree after death. Shortly thereafter Mi-sook after ten years of trying to have a child with her doctor husband Do-il decides to adopt a child and she remembers Jin-sung. Jin-sung is a little overwhelmed by the change in his life and becomes obsessed with drawing a dead Acacia tree in their backyard.
Miraculously Mi-sook then becomes pregnant and the birth of the child puts even more stress on Jin-sung. After an argument Jin-sung runs away and the family behaves like nothing happened. As strangely as Mi-sook became pregnant, the once dead Acacia tree now starts to bloom. The family starts to fall apart as a series of mysterious accidents begin to happen. Are they all due to Jin-sung or is it something far more sinister?
I had initially seen Acacia a year ago on a Korean DVD and was immediately impressed by the film. It's an old "ghost story" style gothic horror film. That in itself may turn off some of the audience who are looking for a more action packed film. The story takes a while to develop and while not extremely slow, Acacia is not that fast either. There's a significant amount of character development in Acacia as well. Since there are basically six characters in the film of any consequence, you really feel like you are looking into their lives!
There's also some social and moral issues brought into the film. Jin-sung is hesitant to adopt the last name of his new family. In Korea, that is a real big deal, more-so than in this country. The grandmother who wants to send Ji-sung back after Mi-sook has her own child is typical of some old family traditions of looking at adopted children as not being equal to natural ones. Personally the "Danger Seeker" knew in his youth, a family where the same thing happened as far as having a child right after adopting an older child due to many years of trying to have a child unsuccessfully. In the case of my mother's friend, she got pregnant twice in less than two years after adopting. It took a great toll on the mother and when watching Acacia I immediately thought of them.
Acacia is not a film for everybody, it's a film more for the thinker in all of us. A gothic horror story with moral implications. Personally I felt it was a great movie. The director Ki-Hyung Park directed Whispering Corridors another "gothic" ghost story, I liked this film better for style, however Corridors was a lot more fun. So don't expect to be shocked by Acacia, instead plan to be caught up in a very good story!
Video and Audio:
Shot on film and presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Acacia is beautifully filmed. The cinematography, combined with outstanding audio is totally mesmerizing in some scenes. The colors are intentionally weak to add to the tone of the movie. A very pleasing film visually!
As with every Tartan Asia Extreme release, there is a DTS 5.1 track. I may sound like a broken record, but why do not more companies do this? There's also a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack as well. Acacia as I mentioned above has some outstanding audio, it is one of the most powerful soundtracks I've heard outside of action films! It will give your home theater a good workout in parts of the film.
Here's another area where Tartan consistently delivers. There's a "making of" featurette, a director and cast commentary, a photo gallery and a great section of upcoming Tartan titles.
Films that Peter West reviews are played on a Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi DVD player, viewed on a Mitsubishi WS-55413 HDTV and listened to on a THX certified Pioneer Elite VSX-56TXi A/V Receiver through a 7.1 setup of JBL Northridge E series Speakers.
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