Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Gwoemul" (2006)

I finally got around to watching a film I have been wanting to see for years, the South Korean film “Gwoemul” or “The Host” as it is more commonly known. (Not to be confused with the other “The Host” coming out this year, inspired by another book from the author of “Twilight.”)

Conclusions? It is indeed an astoundingly well-made creature feature, with stunning visual effects, great acting, and solid directing. Like all really good horror, it has something to say beyond all the thrilling and scaring. Most of that comes in the form of some (admittedly well-earned) America bashing. If the opening scene/set-up feels too “on the nose” it was simply ripped right out of real life. The scene where our hero is questioned by an American official—who asks him why he didn’t go through any official channels for help—is one of the better moments of drama in the film. Heartbreaking and enraging all at once.

However, the main thing I came away from “Gwoemul” with was a question. Why? It is not just this film, but rather a common thread of horror films from the past decade. Why tell these stories in particular?

Storytellers chose their stories. They select or create them to entertain and inform. To educate and to change the culture around them. They have all-power over their story. They chose where to start the narrative and where to end it. Some are good and some are not so good, but the good ones inspire.

In this story one wonders why you create this exact set-up—girl presumed dead, revealed to be alive, family sets out to rescue her—only to not allow the driving force of the story to be successful?

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