October 9, 2010

Black House: A Contract With the Devil


Tonight, I'll probably have nightmares. That's what happens when you watch a stomach-turning thriller like Shin Terra's Black House over a bowl of Raisin Bran in the morning. You may think you have a whole day ahead of you to forget about the stabbings and the dismemberments, but this freaky little film about a female psychopath (Yu Seon) and the busybody insurance agent (Hwang Jeong-min) who foolishly gets between her and her money is, in a nutshell, unforgettable. In many ways, Black House is a Korean variation on Silence of the Lambs, a suspense-horror hybrid in which a serial killer is being pursued by someone who's got a few issues of his/her own. The fact that here "the good guy" is a bespectacled, chapped-lipped claims processor instead of an inexperienced-but-attractive FBI Agent is actually all to the good of the movie because it makes the hero a little less sympathetic and the conflict a lot more problematic. He may be working for justice, but he's also a tool of the machine. She may be incapable of feeling remorse, but she's also hardly living the high life and she's stuck with a limp. As the killer kook, Yu turns in one of those bone-chilling performances in which the eyes become the gateway to no soul. She's so riveting, you almost want her to win or at least luck out with parole.

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