Vampire Owl: I would have suggested another name for this film.
Vampire Bat: I am sure that the title justifies well enough though.
Vampire Owl: Yes, but the horror effect is certainly not there in the title.
Vampire Bat: What else do you expect from a title?
Vampire Owl: Much deeper horror to attract people towards the film.
Vampire Bat: It could be named after humans then.
Vampire Owl: Humanity is too much of evil. Let us leave them with their own evil.
Vampire Bat: Well, it is strange that they are scared of ghosts.
Vampire Owl: Is it supposed to be natural?
Vampire Bat: Well, they are ghosts of humans. As they die and continue to be evil at the same level, there is more terror.
[Gets some potato chips and three cups of ginger tea].
What is the movie all about? :: Sang-won (Ha Jung-woo) doesn’t have a happy relationship with anyone including his daughter Yi Na (Yool Heo) after a car accident which caused the death of her wife. They move to a new house which is located in the countryside with not much of civilization nearby, and he is also not able to find a nanny for his daughter. He has to work at a construction site, and has to leave home soon enough. At the same time, it seems that his daughter has found a new friend in the new place, but the person is not human, and neither is the doll that she found in there. As Sang-won is taking a lot of medicines to keep himself going, and has his own dose of hallucinations, he is not able to differentiate between reality and what he is dreaming about.
There is also something about the closet in the old house where they are staying, and it has a lot of things which the earlier residents had left behind, with that doll also coming from there.
So, what happens next in this tale of horror ? :: Yi Na still seems to be happier than before at the new house. But one morning, Sang-won finds out that her room is all messed up and she seems to have brutally murdered a bird. Things only get stranger with the child, but he has to work as usual. There is certainly something supernatural about the house, especially the closet, but Sang-won feels that it is part of his hallucinations and nightmares which have been quite common, and had gotten only worse at the new place. The nanny does arrive at the house, but despite charging a lot for her work, she is not that fond of the child who is also not happy with the circumstances. Soon enough, the nanny just wants to run away. When Sang-won returns home, he is not able to find the child, and blames the nanny. But the police finds nothing to point such a crime on her. He keeps looking for the child with the help of the police department, but for months, he is not able to find any clue. None of the cameras on the road had shown the child going outside either. Now, one can only wonder where she had gone.
The defence of The Closet :: The movie does take the idea of the haunted house pretty well, especially with the more haunted closet at the core of everything. The child does take on the transformation very well, and the other demon children who come later are effective in creating the new world of horror. There is one particular scene with the child demons everywhere that seems to be nicely planned. You cannot be without fear for the child demons, for the inherent evil of the children are often more powerful than one can imagine. We know the idea that William Golding brought with Lord of the Flies, and that is indeed a scary thing even for the realm of the ghosts, as there is no limit to what pure evil can do. The visuals are really good, as we look at them – there is always beauty as well as creepiness which are displayed so well. The atmosphere with a certain amount of melancholy works without fail. You can say that with a possible sequel, there can be a horror myth developed for further progress.
The claws of flaw :: There was always scope for The Closet to do more and also better, but it often hesitates to take that opportunity to rise further. It doesn’t use the terror elements to the best advantage in the beginning stages, as the haunting could have gotten much scarier with better usage of the elements and effects. The terror is often limited to the closet as well as the room which contains it, and even then, it could have been scarier with the content. There is always something more to be done with such a setting taking over. Korean films have been in the front to bring the innovation, but it is not so in this case, as it doesn’t become the memorable one. There are the usual flawed decisions that the main characters make, and you know that this could always be creepier, especially with the premise. The film does makes one wonder why the industry is not coming up with one special film that could make all the difference in a world of weakening horror genre.
Performers of the soul :: The movie is not that much dependent on the performances, as there are only three characters who are of importance, and it is the supernatural that dictates the performances more than anything else. Ha Jung-woo does play the father figure very well, and we have seen fathers losing children to demons or ghosts very often, like in the case of Don’t Listen which had a similar father figure in a haunted house in the middle of nowhere. Here, we have a much controlled performance in comparison, and that works well enough. Kim-Nam-gil does make a smooth entrance as an exorcist of another kind, even though it is also a reminder of other films which we have watched before, for there is always something coming together as the common thing in the end. Heo-Yool becomes the terrifying child after becoming the sad and depressed child of melancholy in the earlier stages. The other characters, as one would expect, become people of not much importance here. It could have used a past with more characters effectively though.
How it finishes :: We have come across many Korean horror films, and while The Closet adds to that grand list, it is certainly not the kind of movie that has the strength to stand apart and make an impact enough to keep it strong at all times. It is surely effective enough as a horror film, but not that much as one would expect it to be, especially during a time that the supernatural needs to have more power within itself to rise about the Corona virus fear as well as the human terror that has risen above everything else. Nowadays, humanity has always been more terrifying than any ghost that the world has ever seen in the history of spirits, magic and witchcraft. After we are done with the evil that humanity has provided, we can look out for these movies which work well enough with its horror, but often not enough for people who have been troubled by the unparalleled evil which humans have unleashed on this world for their selfishness and to keep the level of hatred high. We know how humans treat the other, we really do.
Release date: 5th February 2021
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Kim Kwang-bin
Starring: Ha Jung-woo, Kim Nam-gil, Heo Yool, Kim Shi-A, Shin Hyun-bin, Kim Soo-jin, Park Sung-woong, Park Ji-a, Lim Hyun-sung, Kang Sin-cheol,bHan Chang-min
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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.