November 15, 2008

Terror Taxi: A Ride Into the Unknown

For every Eraserhead, there's a Liquid Sky; for every Evil Dead, there's The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Universe. Sometimes, an early oddball movie announces a directorial visionary (David Lynch, Sam Raimi); sometimes, it doesn't (Slava Tsukerman, W.D. Richter). I wish Terror Taxi had fallen in the former camp. But from the looks of it, that's probably not going to be the case since, as far as I can tell, this funny freakshow circa 2000 is Heo Seung-jun's first and only flick. Too bad. A kooky comedy about a dead cab driver (Lee Seo-jin) trying to make sense of Limbo, Heo's feature debut has the crazy logic of a Repo Man or a Donnie Darko with enough surreal imagery (blood-fueled car engines, amusement park rest stops, and flying taxis), visual gags (projectile vomiting, butt cracks), and hammy performances (Jeong Hae-gyu in particular) to justify a cult following. The movie demands -- and deserves -- repeat viewings since there's no other way to untangle its knotty narrative. That said, for anyone who thinks a little confusion isn't necessarily a bad thing if it's delivered with smarts, style and a sense of humor, Terror Taxi is kind of terrific.

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