Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bedevilled (Kim Bok-nam Salinsageonui Jeonmal)

So you think you've seen it all, huh? You think you've seen every single horror and revenge flick out there? Well, you haven't if you have given the Korean movie Bedevilled an unknowing pass. It is a truly disturbing film that lulls you into a false sense of security thanks to its wonderful island setting and mischievous changes of POV throughout the film. 

It is a very dark masterpiece. 

I don't want to say that this film is the greatest ever because it does seem a bit slow at the start, albeit purposefully. Relationships and characters are actually introduced and explored. It's not just some guy killing a bunch of babysitters having promiscuous sex. 

I mean, let's face it, all of the female characters from Halloween outside of Laurie Strode are easily replaceable with their contemporaries because their characters have no meaning. They are just slash-fodder. No one ever said or will ever say, "Annie is my favorite character ever." When she is killed no one cares or if they say they do they only say that because her death "scared" them or because it meant something to Laurie. 

I don't know if horror filmmaking in particular has come a long away from a character standpoint since then, but it seems some writers and directors have discovered a knack for making characters have meaning and for their deaths to be an act of true tragedy and not just some inventive death showcase. Although, who doesn't love a good kill? Sure, good kills are part of the genre, too. They have their place in the horror world. It's just that there is a time and a place and a mood. 

Bedevilled manages to balance the drama and the bloodfest almost perfectly although fans of cheesefest horror movies will probably be left in the dust. There's no "ooga booga" here. I didn't jump even once. 

Our two primary characters really will come alive and rip your heart out by the end of the film, though.

Hae-won seems kinda like a bitch, but it's apparent that she has her reasons. When she is given leave from her work after some behavioral issues and decides to travel back to the island paradise where she spent a part of her childhood, it obviously seems like this is where she rediscovers her path to unbitchiness. 

This movie is about redemption... or so I thought. 

At first glance the island seems fairly harmless and rather rustic. There are only a few people living on the island, but the one she came to see is her childhood friend Kim Bok-nam. For reasons we don't know until deeper into the film Hae-won hasn't been answering Kim Bok-nam's letters, but it's apparent that Kim Bok-nam still holds affection toward her distant friend. 

The two seem to easily reconnect. 

However, Kim Bok-nam isn't living the life of luxury on this island paradise. She's practically being treated as a slave by her husband and family and as the film progresses you will feel the rage and hate start to flow. You will want to jump into this film and literally kill almost every single character and I mean that in some not gimmicky turn of phrase. Serious as a heart attack this film will piss you the fuck off. 

Separate from the goings-on of this lovely family is Hae-won as she spends her time blissfully relaxing. The turmoil Kim Bok-nam is experiencing is something that Hae-won can't even comprehend and knowing or not knowing what she does she cannot do anything to help her friend until it is far too late. 

After a terrible tragedy Kim Bok-nam finally snaps in an epic way that will have you cheering and probably crying, too. I say "finally" because the entire film is a build-up to the whole "snapping" thing. It takes a ton of building up because this is a woman that has been beaten down to a pulp and it takes an act of pure horror to bring herself to create her own brand of pure horror. 

Hae-won can only watch as her childhood friend descends into a pure and understandable madness, a madness Hae-won could have prevented. 

This is definitely a blood and guts horror movie, but it is one of those special horror movies that rely on emotion and not cheap scare tactics. This is a drama and the first hour can try your patience, but just wait and watch. This is a film where you really don't want anything to happen because once things do start happening you'll really wish they hadn't. 

I guarantee you'll remember this one and you probably won't look at bean paste the same way again. 

Don't just watch for the horror, though. Watch for the story. 


  1. Sounds good.

    With all of these good Korean flicks around, I wish I knew the language. I'm just one of many 1 language Americans.

    1. I've always wanted to properly learn Japanese and German. Korean is a more recent addition to my list of languages to learn. Chinese is too intimidating for me to think about wanting to learn. I took three years of German in high school and I can count to eternity because of it. "Eintausend Einhundert Dreiundzwanzig" sounds really mean when you yell it at someone that doesn't know it just means 1,123. Not much else has really been retained off the top of my head other than Rammstein songs.

      I'm not very familiar with Korean or Chinese yet, but I recognize Japanese off the bat right now.

      I tried teaching myself a bit of the Japanese alphabet, but that's a process. Korean, at least its alphabet, seems easier to learn. It'd help if I had a teacher other than the ones on YouTube.