What makes a real horror film? In my personal opinion it’s when you have a character that represents pure evil, and has absolutely no morale’s whatsoever. It’s quite scary actually to think that there are people out there that would do harm to you and they don’t see anything wrong with it. Imagine a person harming people simply because it amuses them and its fun. Someone who enjoys the thrill of the hunt and the game attacking someone ensues. A lot of horror movies throw in monsters or demons from hell, but the real horror out there is when an individual themselves is truly a monster.
I Saw the Devil, directed by Ji-woon Kim is a terrific horror movie because the monster in this film is an individual who is a complete psychopath and gets off by killing people. It also shows us that in each of us a monster does exist and if pushed to our limits, it can show its ugly head.
The film is about a man named Soo-hyun played by Byung-hun Lee. He’s a special agent and his life is hectic, busy, and stressful. He has a wife and as the film opens we find her stranded by the side of the road because she has a flat tire. As she waits for a tow truck to come and help her, a van stops and a man gets out. At first it seems as though he wants to help, but quickly she finds that he smashes in the car windows and attacks her brutally with a hammer to her head. He doesn’t kill her immediately though because the fun has yet to be had.
Back in his place he ties her up and cuts her up into little pieces. It’s a brutal murder and a horrible way to die. She pleads for her life and states that she is in fact pregnant, but our killer is merciless and proceeds anyway. After a search for her body leads them to her decapitated head, Soo-hyun sets out on a quest to find this man and make him feel as much, or more pain as his wife did.
So the rest of the film is him tracking down, and then thwarting his multiple killing attempts and torturing him. His name is Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi). But Kyung-chul actually finds himself enjoying the hunt and participates willingly. The question remains will he kill again, and just how much torture will Soo-hyun inflict upon him.
I felt as though the film was brilliantly acted. Byung-hun Lee does a great job of portraying a man who will do anything to inflict pain and suffering on the man who killed his wife. He plays it very calm and collected. But the real standout here is Min-sik Choi. His acting is fantastic and he plays a truly sadistic and messed up psychopath. The two play well off of each other and you truly believe that he has zero morale’s and will stop at nothing to amuse himself.
This is a Korean film and unfortunately will likely not be getting a wide release here in the United States. It’s a shame because this film is wonderfully done and both the acting and directing should be recognized.
FINAL GRADE: A â€“
Reel Film News Movie Review by Bill Ayres