Possessed (SOUTH KOREA)
Do we really need another movie with crazy religious mothers? Didn’t Piper Laurie’s loony from Carrie teach us anything?
Bo-Yeon Kim plays the offending matriarch in this case, mother of Hee-jin (Sang-Mi Nam) and the younger 14-year old So-jin (Shim Eun-Kyung), who’s gone missing. Rumour has it she’s possessed, something mum deals with an excessive amount of prayer. A matter of fact cop shows up, wanting to explain the case in a fast, non-supernatural manner, but the supposed-suicides keep rolling on and protagonist Hee-jin’s seems to be at the centre of it all. What gives?
This film– which is more thriller than horror – starts well but soon drowns in a muddle of overdone melodrama and clichéd suspense sequences (creepy hangings, levitating bodies and, “could there be a monster under the bed…?”). First-time director Yong-Joo Lee creates a disturbing atmosphere, but there’s little invention here, and the expositional flashbacks are too much “tell”, not enough “show.”
It’s also a pity that the film’s most amusing character, a mental guard who rants about evil spirits, is killed in the first 20 minutes, found in a sea of vomit by our intrepid detective.
Still, technical credits are impressive, and Lee does pull of a satisfying ending. The closest literal translation of the title is “Hell of the Non-Believers”, which gives you a good idea for what you in for. Generic, but decent K-horror. [JB]