Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Jin-Young Jang, Myeong-min Kim
Director: Jong-chan Yun
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Looking for a fresh start, a young taxi driver moves into apartment 504 of a crumbling tenement. He soon discovers the previous tenant died mysteriously and everyone on the floor is somehow connected to the dead man. After... more »
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Interesting little flick.
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 05/27/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sorum (Jong-Chan Yoon, 2001)
The first thing to know about Sorum is that, despite Tartan (who released it in their excellent Asia Extreme line on DVD) calling it such, it is not a horror film. There are a few mentions of a ghost, and some things unexplained within the bounds of the story, but all of them are easy to find alternate explanations for; this is a drama about a guy who starts off disturbed, and gets more so as the movie goes on. So as long as you know what to expect, there's a lot to be liked here.
Yong-hyun (Into the Mirror's Myong-min Kim in his debut role) is a disaffected taxi driver who moves into a crumbling tenement building. He soon finds out that the previous owner died during a mysterious fire. Down the hall from him lives Sun-yeong (The Scent of Chrysanthemums' Jin-young Jang, who won the 2001 Best Actress award at Fantasporto for her role here), a withdrawn convenience store employee with an abusive compulsive gambler for a husband. Yong-hyun and Sun-yeong become reluctant friends, but their relationship is suddenly catapulted into much deeper realms when Sun-yeong kills her husband in self-defense.
While Sorum is for the most part a slow film, it is intense and compelling as the relationship between the two veers all over the map. Is Yong-hyun falling in love with Sun-yeong? Is she falling in love with him? And what of the supposed ghost of the woman who died in a similar fire in Yong-hyun's apartment thirty years before? Does her ghost really wander the halls of the building, endlessly calling to her lost child? And does the obsessed novelist in the next apartment over know more than he's telling? What about Eun-soo, the former girlfriend of Room 504's previous tenant?
If Sorum (the name, loosely translated, means "goosebumps", though you'll not find that out in the movie itself) were an Italian film, I'd not hesitate to label it a giallo. Yoon (Blue Swallow) has all the ingredients for a good giallo in the mix-- protagonist who's not entirely stable, house (okay, apartment building) with a dark past, a surprising crime, a mix of the weirdest neighbors you'd ever not want in a living situation, a situation ready to explode into violence at the drop of a hat. (To add to the comparison, I swear I saw more than one nod to Profondo Rosso.) And it's a pretty good giallo for all its pretensions to the horror genre. The movie lacks a Big Reveal(TM) at the end, but that's certainly not a bad thing. Sorum is a good one if you like to spend hours afterwards at your favorite watering hole discussing particulars with your pals. *** ½"
AMBIGUOUS BUT SOMETHING WORTHY
Anton Ilinski | Moscow, Russia | 08/20/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Sorum" may seem a bit confusing, odd and incomprehensible. Well, I must confess I was confused too because this film is not what usual thrillers and movies a la "Sixth Sense" tend to offer. It's quite different and I think fathomless to an unprepared viewer even to those who've seen a lot of Asian and to be precise - Korean mystical films.
A young taxi driver settles in a big crumbling tenement house with dark history. Relations between neighbors are rather strange, some time ago there was a big fire here with dramatic consequences, some people died in the house and presumably something ghostly dwells there. What is the truth behind the above-mentioned fire? What ties certain tenants of the building? Are there any ghosts there? Are all the strange things happening because of those ghosts or by evil intentions of the occupants? I wish I've received the answers to all of my questions in the end of the film, but I can't definately say so. "Sorum" is one of those movies you are left wondering after: what was all that? And then you start writing to some movie-forums naming your topic "THE ENDING???"
Even if "Sorum" gives you the answers they are not clear and distinct. Pretty much is left for your imagination and your ability to interpret what you just saw. It's not that kind of a movie when you think "What a twist!" in the end. It's of another kind when you want to watch it for the second time to clear everything out. Or throw the DVD away with annoyance. Personally I think it's always better to watch again but I'm not sure when I'm going to because "Sorum" is moody and maybe a bit dull so you need to wait for the right humour.
Maybe I'm too harsh saying the movie's boring - it's rather thoughtful and lingering, its slow-paced manner leaves a lot of space for silent long frames and pensive dialogs. It has a lot of mataphors you have to dig out and hidden meanings. I'm not sure maybe a viewer has to be born in Korea to understand them all. Anyway don't try to watch "Sorum" if you're looking for some lightweight flick to kill an evening with. Or even if you want to watch some intense, tough thriller. You'll obviously have to organize yourself for this one and be prepared that probably you'll need to watch it again.
"Sorum" more likely deserves four stars. I gave it three only because it's not quite my cup of tea. It doesn't mean a thing, it's not that "Sorum" is not worth your attention. It's mine three, but if to judge objectively it's rather four. The only thing I'd advise is to rent it first."
When The Past Intertwines With The Present
Ernest Jagger | Culver City, California | 09/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, this film takes patience. Further, it is not a horror film or a thriller, but more of a suspense-drama. The film was one of the first Korean suspense-dramas that I viewed, before many of them became so similar, therefore, I have always liked this film. The film begins with a taxi-driver named Yong-hyun (Myeong-min Kim) who has just rented a room in a very dilapidated and extremely run down apartment building. You can almost feel the grime from the building which once saw better days. With trash strewn about the hallways and crumbling steps in need of repair, you realize that this is a building which should have been torn down years ago.
Moreover, during the night scenes in the film, you can almost feel the sense of despair in the characters of this film, which would lead them to rent such a sordid a place such as this. Which brings us to our antagonist: Yong-hyun. He has come to live here due to the fact that his girlfriend has run away from him. However, as the film progresses you realize that may not really be the case. In any event, the film is not about his girlfriend, at least in the context of the film. For the film is about the building and the occupants of the Migum Apartments. The viewer is slowly introduced to Yong-hyun's life and personality; and one comes to realize that not all is well with this young man, and there is a connection to him and this apartment building.
Furthermore, the other occupants of the building also have their secrets. Sun-yeong (Jin-Young Jang) lives down the hall from Yong-hyun. She is married to an abusive man who steals her money to gamble. She is the ONLY person in the film I felt any sympathy towards. I do not wish to give away her secrets or her interaction with Yong-hyun, which will ruin the film for you. I found her life the most tragic of all, and yet, although one might empathize with Yong-hyun and his own tragic past, I cannot. For it is his own actions which compel him to commit terrible deeds. One of them regarding Sun-yeong is unforgivable. We the viewer witness that he is not a stable person, but a very dangerous one.
There is something about this building and room 504, which links Yong-hyun and his past. Was it a coincidence that he rented a room in this particular building? And what is his connection to an event which occurred there 30 years ago? I found Yong-hyun to be a very unsympathetic character. You do not realize this in the beginning, but eventually you come to see him for what he really is. As I stated in the beginning, patience is required for this film. There is much ambiguity in the film, and it does not leave the viewer with a neat tidy ending. Much is left to the imagination, and for the viewer to piece it all together. I recommend viewers rent the film first. It is not a film for everyone. And one more thing, it is not a horror film, despite what the cover may show, or the DVD synopsis of the cover case on the back might lead you to believe."