October 30, 2010

Paradise Villa: Piling Up Bodies on the Cheap

"Cheap" can mean quite a few things -- inexpensive, shoddy, ashamed, even mean -- and Paradise Villa, the low-budget slasher flick from director Park Chong-won, certainly takes on every definition. Shot in washed-out video and set in a run-of-the-mill apartment building where lights flicker on and off, the movie certainly looks cheap. It feels cheap too with its meaningless dialogue leading to gratuitous nudity or soft core sex nearly as often as explosions of violence. There's something mean (i.e., cheap) about the violence itself, too. The sick-o psycho (Jo Han-jun), who's bloodying room after room, is a dubiously distressed video gamer who sees every tenant as an uncooperative gaming competitor. Since no one knows what he's talking about, he slays them. Not that these neighbors would be safe if he'd never arrived. There's murder and mayhem throughout the complex with the coitus-interruptus killing of the landlord by a man who's having an affair with his mistress, and the bottle-smashing head-bashing of a soccer fan who won't stop singing when the power goes out. It's worth adding that "cheap" can be fun when it's this unashamedly tawdry. For me, watching Paradise Villa was time well-spent.

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