Edited by Yang Young Jun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
Beyond “The Closet,” There’s Only A Feat Left
WARNING: This article contains a minor spoiler.
The Closet, a mystery horror thriller, was released on Feb 5. The movie follows the footsteps of Sang Won looking for his missing daughter with the help of a mystery man, Kyung Hoon. The movie got off to a good start by beating Birds of Prey to top daily box office for three days in a row. Most audience are satisfied with the film, but it is almost impossible for even good works to have no flaws.
Let’s look at what the editor feels like The Closet‘s cinematic pros and cons are.
Pros – Raging Tension Early In The Movie
The beginning of the movie moves along in such speed that every scene heightens the tension. The dramatic interpretation with VCR, Ina’s sudden change like Hyo Jin of The Wailing, and the nightmares of Sang Won present a sense of fear and help the audience to focus. The tension up to Ina’s disappearance is as impressive as any other great horror films.
Cons – Less Horror, More Drama
However, The Closet slowly loses its appeal as horror thriller film to the point where only a few scenes are memorable. After spending 20 minutes out of 98 minutes, the entire running time, building up the fear, it suddenly focus on comedies, family melodramas and messages. To be honest, everything felt distracted. It makes me wonder what the movie would be like if they solely focused on intensifying the fear or increased a running time if they couldn’t trade any materials.
Pros – Thrilling Sound & Creative Visual
Maybe it’s because of director Kim Kwang-bin’s career as a simultaneous recording staff. Sound is a big part of The Closet. Ordinary sounds, like child laughter and string instruments, turn horrifying under his guidance. Music director Cho Young Wook’s music also increases the sense of fear in major scenes. The urban myth of children’s song “Baby From The Island” crosses my mind.
The visual in the film is also impressive. “Strange World” existing beyond the closet depicts the heart of left out and wounded child. With the elaborate work of the production team, the set includes red lights, grotesque figures of dolls and the eerie laughter of children all over the place. In all, a beautiful yet odd Mise-en-Scène was born.
Cons – A Series Of Clichés, Disappeared Probability
The Closet reminds me of countless movies. This proves that the setting of the movie is already familiar. Of course, borrowing a material in a genre that is almost impossible to show any novelty is by no means a bad thing. However, the lack of probability in the story that should have helped intermix these familiar materials, only makes the story feel like an arrangement of the clichés.
I would like to use the message about the child abuse as an example. Although the intention was good, the transition from a horror thriller to family drama was rocky, which leaves the audience question the overall storyline. A lack of Ina’s narrative makes us wonder exactly how much pain she suffered to act in such way. Also the simple-minded characters diminishes the probability of the story.
Pros – Children’s Acting and Kim Nam Gil’s Character
Interestingly, the most outstanding people in The Closet are the child actors. Heo Yul, who came through a competition of 500 to 1, plays the pure but terrifying character of Ina perfectly and guides the movie as the center of the narrative. It goes the same for Kim Sia. She is not included on the cast information to keep her appearance as a secret. So far, she’s been noted for roles of pure and wounded children, but this time she shows a new aspect by playing Myung Jin, a ghost bearing a grudge.
Kim Nam Gil’s character Kyung Hoon is also unique. This character shows a whole new charm of the actor who played Kim Hae Il, a hot-blooded priest, in “The Fiery Priest.” Kyung Hoon, who seems shallow but serious when needed enlivens the story. And his exorcism ritual with both Eastern and Western features mixed together makes the movie more fun to watch.
Cons – Much Too Familiar Character Played By Ha Jung Woo
However, it is difficult to sympathize with Ha Jung Woo’s character Sang Won. The problem lies with a scantiness of the character, not his acting prowess. Though the awkward father-daughter relationship is intended, Sang Won appears more like a detective looking for a missing person than a father looking for his child. The lack of description in character is forcing its existence to solely rely on the actor’s skills, which, to be honest, is not so different from what we’ve seen in his previous films. In result, Sang Won’s character ends up with no apparent appeals. (5/10)