December 8, 2013

Natural Burials: A Strange Branch of Horror

Never heard of a tree therapist? Well, she's the woman who hooks up IV drips to pines with fungal issues then places her hands on the infected bark to source any memories of dead people buried nearby. (Unhappy corpses can cause irrigation woes for the roots, you know.) It's not easy work, my friend, so you can easily see why in Park Kwang-chun's Natural Burials, the city's leading tree therapist (Lee Young-ah) is constantly being force-fed horse-pills by her worried mother to help with the stress. This is the kind of job that leads to night sweats, hallucinations, and car accidents.

"Car accidents?" you ask. Yes. Because part of being a tree therapist is driving from tree to tree to tree. (They're everywhere!) And the chances of an accident are only going to increase when that soiled, crazy man (Yeon Je-wook) who's obsessed with you -- and who happens to have both escaped from the madhouse and inherited a plant nursery -- has a nasty twitch in his neck. Meanwhile, your fiance (On Ju-wan) really only meets you in parking lots and your best friend -- who, as luck would have it, is in love with said fiance -- tends to speed when she (Park Soo-jin) feels any stress. Oh, yes. For a tree therapist, a four-car-pileup is much more than likely.

Did I mention that Natural Burials is a horror movie? Because it is. Did you know that it originally broadcast as a two-part miniseries on cable? Because it did. And you can kind of tell what kind of cable channel that might be. When the crazy gal pal strips off her dress for the boyfriend, the movie feels soap-y. When an assistant tree therapist comments, "It smells like a rotting corpse about an ailing plant," the movie feels silly. Low-end cable can feel very B-movie when you think about it. But why would you want to change that? Can't enjoy a little lowbrow, made-for-TV fun? Go see a therapist!

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