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Old 8th May 2007, 16:14   #91
Noumenon
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Default The Host - or "When Mudskippers Attack"

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Originally Posted by beer good View Post
The Host really is an interesting movie. Not the best horror movie to come out of Korea in recent years, but it's one of the more successful attempts at fusing horror, comedy, satire and actual drama I've seen lately - sort of a slightly more serious and less self-consciously clever Shaun of the Dead. I think I gave it on the monster movie scale when I watched it.
I concur, but I think I'll give it . As BG says, The Host has a little dose of everything all mixed together which means it doesn't exactly work as you'd expect - but it does work, sort of. The monster is cool, but a bit uncertain as to whether it should be goofy or scary; imagine Jurassic Park starring a cross between a giant killer tadpole and a clumsy, drooly pet dog. The heroic family dynamic is thornily realistic but almost totally unsuited to monster slayage, as most families are, along with a protagonist as simple-minded and intermitently clumsy as the monster itself.

The wider social implications are actually based loosely on fact - a US Military civilian employee ordered lab chemicals be poured into the Han River against the objections of his Korean underlings, then was convicted in absentia when the US refused to allow him to face charges on Korean soil*. A critical tone to the involvement of US characters and somewhat exagerated foreign policies no doubt stems from this - along with "Agent Yellow", an apparently watered-down version of... something else.

If I had to compare it to a Hollywood equivolent, it would probably be Eight-Legged Freaks (if I'm being generous - to Hollywood) or Slither (if I'm not). The effects are good, but the characters make it more interesting than the run-of-the-mill US light-horror. This is the story of a family that might not make it to the final frame in one piece... you'd be surprised how much that goes towards making an audience member edgy.

It is a lot of fun, but not quite at the level of Joon-Ho Bong's bloomin' excellent Memories of Murder, in which the same leading man demonstrates his more conventional strengths in stark contrast to this more clowny lead role (MoM isn't Comedy-Horror). The Host is well worth a watch though, even Junkmonkeys might like this one.

* He has subsequently stood trial properly in Korea but has not served a sentence.
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Old 28th Jun 2007, 19:18   #92
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Default Re: J-Horror (and associated films)

I've been smuggling in Asian videos with my recent smuggling of books (ie ordered via Amazon and delivered-- most of the time -- when I'm the only one home) with the result that I finally saw the Japanese version of Dark Water earlier this week, and, last week, A Tale of Two Sisters. I have to agree with you about that one, Noumenon, a superb movie. What I think I'm most enjoying is being surprised. I had to watch ATOTS three times (I know, I'm a little obsessive, but once was with the commentary on!) and I still wasn't entirely sure about who was where, if you know what I mean. Dark Water was a lot more predictable, though it still offered one or two chills. Directed by Hideo Nakata and based on a story by Koji Suzuki (as was Ringu) it touched on some of the same themes as the earlier movie -- particularly visually -- with somewhat less success.

Last night I watched The Eye. Bewilderingly, it was in Mandarin, Thai and occasionally in English. Despite the garish green box with the glowing eye, it's not a bad ghost story either, featuring a main character who, following corneal transplants, finds a la Haley Joel Osment, that she sees dead people. Somewhat predictable, but worth watching if for one scene alone -- where she looks at a photograph on a train. Which I shall describe no further. It didn't leave me wondering like A Tale of Two Sisters. But I did need to leave the light on when I was walking upstairs. That's always a good sign.
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Old 15th Aug 2007, 9:59   #93
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Default Re: J-Horror (and associated films)

Woo-Hoo! LoveFilm have just emailed to say A Tale of Two Sisters is on its way.

Can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it.
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Old 15th Aug 2007, 14:15   #94
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Default Re: J-Horror (and associated films)

I envy you! I left all my DVDs behind me in ol' Blighty when I came to Spain. I'm missing them dreadfully, more than my family and friends. It might be time to get on one of those email/mail/order DVD programmes myself - do you know if I love Film sends to the continent?
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Old 15th Aug 2007, 15:14   #95
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Default Re: J-Horror (and associated films)

It's full name is LoveFilm International and they have offices on the continent, so I'd say yes.
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Old 29th Oct 2007, 17:53   #96
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Default Re: J-Horror (and associated films)

I forgot to mention that A Tale of Two Sisters didn't turn up and after much faffing about I received a replacement copy last week. A friend had a similar experience, really laid on the annoyance factor and got 6 months' free subscription! maybe I should have pushed harder...

Anyway. Review to come...
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Old 29th Oct 2007, 19:50   #97
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Default Re: J-Horror, K-Horror, and everything in-between

My recent foray into Korean movies has been a thoroughly enjoyable one, with solid gold star ratings across the board for everything I've seen thus far. I thought I was getting a hang on what to expect, but nothing could have prepared me for the genuine masterpiece that is A Tale of Two Sisters.

OK, I know, that's as hyperbolic as it gets, so I'll retreat for a second and try and come at it from a different angle.

Ahem.

I like my horror (when I like my horror - sometimes I just go off it altogether, irritated by the overwhelming wave of dross, the stamina-sapping ratio of the unendurable to the really good, the fact that as a genre it is frankly shite at holding it's own and hardly ever does itself any favours in the public domain), to be like that digression; bewildering. Which is odd because I am, by nature, a fellow of calm and rational analysis, a tad scientific and occasionally lacking in good humour when tested by the indulgences of others. My cinematic tastes can - when I'm pushed or in a crap mood - be somewhat Gecko-esque.

Why am I watching you? Do something interesting.

So, buoyed by the Korean angle, but ever wary of a horror movie touted as anything beyond "it's OK", I pushed my copy of the AToTS DVD around the house for a few days, unprepared to notch up my first Korean, and nth horror, disappointment. What the hell was I thinking?

A Tale of Two Sisters is easily the best new (to me) film I've seen all year, and other than my annual re-watch of Night of the Demon, the best I've seen in 2007 in toto.


Two girls, sisters Su-mi and Su-yeon, return from a period of rest and recuperation to their home; their mother, who we learn has died, has been replaced by the unfriendly and shrill stepmother, Eun-joo. Very soon, Su-mi becomes convinced that not only is Eun-joo evil, but that a terrifying presence inhabits the house. With the help of her sister, she tries to convince her father that something is seriously wrong, but he is bafflingly unconcerned. Gradually, more and more alarming events occur, conspiring to send Su-mi over the edge into a very distressing psychological episode where nothing is as it seems.

It's almost impossible to give a detailed synopsis of the plot, because it genuinely wouldn't make any sense, and it'd be so spoiler heavy that it'd ruin any of the astonishing twists which thump into you at about the half way point. Two turns of phrase in particular, one a few moments after the other, will have you in a state of such upheaval that you'll forget the next few scenes as you try and assimilate them into your understanding. Yes, this is a nothing-is-as-it-seems movie, and it's quite the most accomplished I've seen. I have now watched it through four times and am smiling with the audacity and ease with which it picks you up and spins you 'round to face another direction.

When you're feeling that disoriented a director can do almost anything with a story, and there are some genuinely bizarre, horrifying, scary and downright peculiar scenes thrown into the mix here. On a second, third and fourth take, these things iron themselves out and you see the beauty of the movie's tortuous internal logic, but for a first-sitting, you're not lost exactly, but you're wide open for almost anything, and that sense of unease...well, it's like being outside Regan McNeill's bedroom door, poised to go in, and sensing the cold. Anything can happen. Can you bear it? Can you bear to see what's going to happen?

At one point, Su-mi wakes from a nightmare, only to find herself in the middle of a worse one happening in her room. I was in such a state that, for the first time since I was a child, I was sat there with my hands over my open mouth, unable to breath, heart racing, terrified out of my wits. I have no doubt that anyone who has seen this film will know the scene I mean and experience a chill as they recall it.

There is nothing like this in Western cinema. Nothing. As Gecko's protégé Bud says, Life comes down to a few moments. This is one of them. Don't miss it.

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Old 29th Oct 2007, 23:50   #98
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Default Re: J-Horror, K-Horror, and everything in-between

Agree completely, amner. Which is why it really hurts me to point out that...
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There is nothing like this in Western cinema.
...won't be true for much longer. Damnit, yanks. Learn to read subtitles.
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Old 30th Oct 2007, 10:32   #99
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Default Re: J-Horror, K-Horror, and everything in-between

I know...it's not good, is it? The twin-directors are British, brought up in the short film tradition, maybe they'll surprise us?
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Old 30th Oct 2007, 12:04   #100
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Default Re: J-Horror, K-Horror, and everything in-between

I have nothing against the common-or-garden Yankee, or their born-in-the-UK equivolent, but - Assholes. Good review amner, glad you liked it. And thanks, I'm having chills about that dream sequence you mentioned, again...
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