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After unsuccessfully trying to have a baby of their own, Dr. Kim Do-il and his father convince his wife Choi Mi-sook to adopt a child in an orphanage. Mi-sook is connected to arts and chooses the six years Kim Jin-sung that loves to draw trees. The boy becomes close to the eight years old next door neighbor Min-jee and is attracted to an old Acacia tree in their lawn. When Mi-sook unexpectedly gets pregnant, her mother asks her to return Jin-sung to the orphanage, beginning the rejection process of the boy. When the baby is born, Mi-sook does not treat Jin-sung well, who believes the acacia tree is his mother, and in a rainy night he vanishes. Along the next days, the family becomes insane, disclosing a dark secret about Jin-sung. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
After unsuccessfully trying for a baby, Dr. Kim Do-il (Jin-geun Kim) convinces his reluctant wife Choi Mi-sook (Hye-jin Shim) to visit the local orphanage, where they decide to adopt Jin-seong (Oh-bin Mun), a creepy young lad who draws disturbing Edvard Munch-style pictures (which wouldn't make him my first choice, but then perhaps I've seen way too many horror films). Once at his new home, their new son forms a strange attachment to the sickly acacia tree in the garden, and befriends the equally frail girl next door, Min-ji (Na-yoon Jeong).
Mi-sook struggles to make Jin-seong feel wanteda task made harder by her unsupportive mother, who openly voices her opinion that adoption was a mistakebut things go from bad to worse after Mi-sook discovers that she is pregnant. When the baby is born, Jin-seong feels rejected and starts to pose a threat to the new arrival, and, as family life becomes more strained, the boy's strange attachment to the acacia grows stronger. After an argument with his adoptive mother, Jin-Seong declares that the tree is his dead mother, and mysteriously disappears.
With their adopted son missing, Kim Do-il and Choi Mi-sook's relationship rapidly breaks down. Meanwhile, Mi-sook's mother coughs up blood after an acacia bloom falls on her face and Kim Do-il's father is attacked and killed by the ants that guard the tree. Is the acacia really the reincarnation of Jin-seong's real mother, taking revenge on those who have wronged her son? And what is the sinister secret that eventually drives Mi-sook to homicidal madness?
Trees can be pretty scary: the ominous tree outside the young boy's bedroom window in Poltergeist, the terrifying trees of The Evil Dead, the baby-eating tree in The Guardian, and even the grouchy apple trees in The Wizard of Ozall of them decidedly unsettling. The acacia tree in this lacklustre K-horror is rather weak by comparison, striking out with flowers and insects hardly the stuff of nightmares.
The real horror of this film is not its titular tree, which actually looks rather tranquil and nonthreatening throughout, but rather the twist of fate and chain of events that ultimately results in tragedy and sufferingbut it is all told at such a dull pace that it proves totally unengrossing. Director Ki-hyeong Park has clearly spent a lot of effort on making his film look as stylish as possible, delivering some admittedly striking imagery, but with such dreary storytelling, very little in the way of tension, and a muddled ending that required way more concentration and patience than I cared to give, Acacia leaves a lot to be desired.
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