August 31, 2014

Paradise Murdered: Neither Horror Nor Comedy Or Anything In Between

I have often thought that Korean movies are distinguished by their propensity for defying genre. As such, romcoms can suddenly take dark turns into very unfunny violence, and thrillers may take side trips into the broadest slapstick without warning then return to nail-biting action just as quick. Paradise Murdered is a whole other kettle of fish however: a movie that appears to be a horror script directed as is if it were a comedy. The result is neither funny nor scary, although it's definitely bizarre in exactly how it displeases.

You can see why Kim Han-min took a comical approach with the material. If you played Paradise Murdered straight, the holes in the plot would be too gaping to overlook. Why does the doctor (Park Hae-il) insist on not allowing anyone else to investigate the initial murders? Why does nobody suspect the town drunkard (Sung Ji-ru) who clearly is having hallucinations and is responsible for at least two accidental deaths, not get tied up, locked up and gagged? How do we know for sure that the little girl is dead? Or the little boy's mother (Yu Hae-jung)? What's up with the chaste ghost (Kim Ju-ryoung)? Why is everyone leaving their sandals behind? Is there really a community out there that's going to rejoice about receiving endless sacks of pure sugar for being best remote island of the year?

As to why Kim even chose to shoot this script, that answer is infinitely more apparent. He wrote Paradise Murdered all by himself. Whether he honestly thinks it's hilarious or simply realized that mining the humor was his best shot at salvaging shoddy material is anybody's guess. All I ask is that you don't write off Kim as a director too soon because he's actually done some fine work since this freshman effort. Both War of the Arrows, his medieval epic, and Handphone, his contemporary thriller, score much higher with the public via IMDb and In the case of the first movie, I heartily agree. In the case of the second, I still need to see it.

Guess what I'll be watching next?!

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