Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Into The Mirror Movie Notes

Thanks to a reader comment, I am going to post this about the Korean horror film "Into The Mirror". Obviously, not everyone has heard or seen this film. I am lucky in that my former boss stocks Korean horror films, and I actually had this in the store at the time of my video store clerk phase. I call it a phase, but it was just my last job before graduating college.

The movie was the subject a remake which I have just reviewed. The movie "Mirrors" is not the same as "Into The Mirror". Sure, it hinges on the same overall themes, but the difference is style and acting ability. The overall themes that I discussed in the previous review about math, theoretical dimensional studies, and even the existence of god is placed into this film, and is a lot heavier handed than its American remake.

The Korean film relies heavily on psychology, sounds, and implied action sequences rather than straight forward gore. Gore is a great tool, but the director of this film Sung-ho Kim does an incredible job of focusing on style and poetry through motion, and you really get a deep sense of darkness and paranoia. The fact that the actors are not speaking English, maybe a great thing for those that have seen "Mirrors" already.

It's hard to find this dvd in a lot of places, including Amazon. There are versions floating around the internet, however, here is the trailer for the film. Just by this trailer you can see the visual style and acting differences between the film.

For a deeper, more intricate synopsis, I referred to and a user write up:

After the accidental death of his partner Young-ho in a hostage situation, the former detective of the Seoul Special Operations Force Woo Young-min (Ji-tae Yu) feels responsible for the tragedy and quit the police force joining the private security company SecuZone. His uncle and owner of the department store Dreampia, Jeon-il Sung (Ju-bong Gi), hires Woo to be the chief of the security of Dreampia, which was rebuilt after a fire where many employees died and is near the reopening in spite of the protest of the families of the victims that claim their indemnity. When an employee dies after hours in the store, Woo leads an internal investigation, while detective Ha Hyun-Su (Myeong-mim Kim) that blames Woo for the death of his friend Young-ho, and his assistant Park, come to the store to lead an official investigation. When other employees that worked in the same department are mysteriously killed in the store, Woo meets Lee Ji-hyun (Hye-na Kim), the twin sister of Lee Jeong-hyun, that convinces him that her sister has not died in the fire and is trapped in the mirrors, while Ha Hyun-Su believes that Lee Ji-hyun is the serial killer.

"Geoul Sokeuro" is another great South Korean horror movie. With a complex screenplay that discloses an intricate and intriguing supernatural plot, this film is supported by great direction and acting and excellent camera work, using mirrors in many unexpected scenes. The horror is not gore but psychological, and there is an important and complex explanation about the "mirror-world" that is basic to understand the end of the story.

Overall, the movie is different in its psychological weight. Psychology makes for a great movie, and American audiences really don't grasp that so much. Sure, it can be a good thing, but most psychological thrillers are panned as too "heavy" for wide audiences. I recommend checking out the movie "Audition" for a similar intensity level, or the movie "Three Extremes" for the terror levels, but if you can't seem to get behind those widely talked about films check out "Perth" or "Old Boy" which are completely different films altogether. If you haven't seen "Into The Mirror" you aren't going to be missing out on anything drastic.

I know, I come across as an expert, but really I'm just a fan of critical thinking. Asian Films offer a lot of implicit psychological development, and a lot of people really don't take time to dwell on those things, and why should they? To the general audience horror is not a psychologically intense experience, but rather just another piece of garbage genre.

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  1. Ooyh, sounds really good. I'll look around for it. I love movies that are dark but hate gore and cruelty (Couldn't deal with audition) But I've noticed that Korean filmmakers do angst and psycho-emotional existential stress really well. -C

  2. Hey check out this short horror in homage to this movie;

  3. This is my favourite kind of horror movie. A psychological horror movie that makes you paranoid about the implications and possibilities of the movie's theme long after it has ended. I usually forget about a movie I have seen next day. This movie (like "The Shining", "Changeling", "Ringu", "Tale of two sisters" etc ) had me thinking about it for a long time. the question, "What if your reflection develops a psyche of its own?" is answered in such a scary-poetic way. I loved it.


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A writer first, cat lover second, and some other stuff too. Human, with lots of faults, and terrible communication.
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