Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Gang Shin-il, Yu Seon, Kim Seo-Hyeong, Hwang Jeong-min
Director: Not applicable
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror
An insurance claims adjuster investigates a decrepit house and discovers horrific secrets inside involving suicides and murder. The more he learns the more the terror mounts, building to a blood-soaked ending that is beyon... more »
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Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 04/29/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"BLACK HOUSE (aka. Geomeun Jip, 2007) is a South Korean thriller that masquerades as an Asian horror film; in truth the film is more psychological than "horror" although the film's main premise is somewhat horrifying and quite disturbing. Based on the novel by Yusuke Kishi and directed by Shin Tae-Ra, the film is a definitely a relief from the usual "vengeful ghost" theme that have plagued most South Korean horror films. "Black House" definitely feels more influenced by Hollywood-style filmmaking than the traditional Korean thriller. (Yusuke's novel was also adapted into a Japanese thriller titled "Black House")
A meek and nerdy young man named Jeon Juno (Hwang Jeong-Min) is an insurance claims adjuster who gets assigned to visit an old dilapidated house. He stumbles upon a "purported" suicide by a seven year old boy who has been insured for $ 30 million Won. After witnessing the supposed "suicide", Juno suspects foul play, since he had recently received a phone call a few days before asking him if the insurance company pays out the coverage in the event of a suicide. He gets harassed by the child's stepfather; Bae Doong Park ( Kang Shin Il) who comes to the office everyday until the insurance money gets paid out. `
Juno resolves to investigate the boy's parents and seek the truth about a potential insurance fraud by a psychotic scam artist. As Juno digs deeper into the case, he finds himself more involved than he wanted to, and the more Juno finds out, the more the terror mounts. Juno's life will be changed forever...
"Black House" is a thrilling attempt by South Korea to escape the usual horror fare that have mostly been "Ringu" and "Ju-On" rip-offs and tries something different. The film does have the right moody atmosphere, style and the touch of creepiness that have made Asian horror very famous. However, this film feels more like a Hollywood film, while it does give its central focus on Juno's amateurish investigations and the usual Police denials, the film relies a lot on blood and gore to emulate terror. The very mood and set designs are reminiscent of the Saw and Hostel franchises, decapitated limbs are on display that the antagonist's lair almost looks like Leatherface's lair in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre".
In addition to the style, the movie also succeeds in suggesting the terror of psychotic manipulation by a most unlikely suspect. The true "horror" of the film is that folks can be manipulated in performing obscene acts of violence on themselves. It expresses the message that psychopaths are everywhere and they look like regular folks. Psychopaths are emotionless individuals who are a danger to themselves or to others. Although truth be told, experienced movie watchers will figure out the mystery halfway through the film; the killings and the gore factor will keep you interested as the film evolves into a "slasher" film. It all depends on how you view the situation since the film feels a bit overstretched on some scenes, that it may either entertain or bore you.
The strongest asset of the film is the cast; Hwang Jeong-Min gives a near-flawless performance as the nerdy Jeon Juno. The actor portrays his role with convincing charisma that I did wonder how a nerdy character can have a great looking girlfriend. Juno's character seemed a repressed and geeky individual who looks like someone who won't be able to tie his shoelaces, but at the same time smart and noble, with a "do-gooder" attitude. Kang Shin Il gives a very creepy and unsettling performance as Bae, the man can give Shinya Tsukamoto (Marebito) a run for his money when it comes to portraying a delusional and disturbed human being. Yoo-Seon plays the boy's mother, Shin Yi-Hwa. Yoo-seon can definitely charm the viewer into feeling pity and empathy towards her character.
Overall, while "Black House" does have its share of weaknesses from its overlong investigations, the survival skills of the antagonist seemed a bit over-the-top, its thematic preoccupations about psychopaths and its overstretched finale; the film is satisfying enough to be an involving thriller. There are enough complexities in its plot and misdirection that kept my interest for the most part that overshadowed the usual "cat and mouse" game and the usual sympathetic protagonist against the cold-blooded killer. There are some hidden surprises that saved the film that I would give this film a timid recommendation.
Recommended with caution, Rent it first [3 ½- Stars]
A very creepy Korean treat
Charles Avinger | Ann Arbor, MI USA | 08/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I heard that this was a good film and decided to check it out. I was definitely not disappointed. Black House is an expertly crafted mystery-horror-thriller about a rather timid insurance investigator who stumbles upon an unexpected, horrifying situation in the course of his work. To be more specific would risk spoiling one of the best "unexpected treasures" I've unearthed in quite a while. What I will say is that the acting is top-notch, the direction is perfectly suited to the subject matter, and the writing is nice and clever. Anyone who enjoys Asian horror will find much to appreciate in the unrated version of Black House."
Starts off good enough . . .
Dancing Ganesha | Bangalore, India | 10/08/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A well put-together suspense film, but ultimately cliched and disappointing, even with the surprise "twist" at the end. This film starts out making you believe that you can point out who the bad guy is as the game of cat-and-mouse begins. Anyone with a penchant for stories about psychopathic killers may enjoy this, otherwise it really doesn't dish up anything new. I was also surprised by the lack of memorable camera work and directing that Korean horror-type films usually demonstrate. The ending is also very typical of American horror films where the antagonist somehow doesn't die, which I found very unappealing. This film is clearly very strongly influenced by boring Hollywood suspense/thrillers."
Anthony | Denmark | 09/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great movie , one of the best Korean Horror - Thrillers ever . Great story-great acting BUY IT !!!!!!!!!!!!"