September 28, 2013

Let Me Out: Trips and Treats Alike in Student Zombie Film

Watching Kim Chang-lae's and Soh Jae's zombie pic Let Me Out is a very meta experience. A film about making a (student) film, the movie often satirizes production issues with which it's unquestionably, sometimes painfully, burdened. And so, while Let Me Out might be poking fun at an untalented, attractive lead actress, that role is played by an untalented, attractive lead actress. And while some on-screen performers may complain about a script that doesn't coalesce, audience members sitting near you are also likely to whisper the same thing. Can't decide whether slow zombies or fast zombies are truer to the genre? Neither can Let Me Out. Not that Let Me Out is trying to be scary. It's trying to be funny. And more than occasionally, it succeeds.

Most of the laughs come from the zombies: three hammy, upbeat actors who radiate optimism as they indulge in the good fortune that comes with sponsored whiskey, free lunches and a chance to be immortalized in celluloid. None of them is particularly convincing as a member of the ravenous undead but whenever this trio is in makeup but out of character, the movie proves charmingly fun. And it's not just the absurdity of watching zombies eat, drink and eventually take over the duties of the crew that cracked me up. It's that each of the actors is so consistently able to project a disarmingly sweet nature while looking like a vivified corpse. That's a stark contrast to the lifeless performance given by Kwon Hyun-sang as the exasperatingly unlikable student director who feels fake right down to his lens-less eyeglasses. I would've liked to have seen what co-star Han Geun-sup would've done with that role.

Star sightings: Pay attention, Korean movie buffs: Directors Lee Myung-se (M, Nowhere to Hide) and Yang Ik-joon (Breathless) have cameos.

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