An insurance agent, still fresh on the job, gets called to a home where he witnesses an apparent suicide. After the initial shock, though, he begins to suspect murder and sets his sights on investigating the boy's father. As the investigation continues, so does the creepy nature of the father. How far will both men go to achieve their ends, and what other secrets is this family hiding?
I'm relatively new to the Korean horror scene, but have liked much of what has come my way. "Black House" is no exception. While it isn't a perfect film, it certainly kept my interest, even during the hours where I would typically be asleep. The flaws are forgivable -- it carries on a bit longer than necessary, expects us to believe a killer capable of some extraordinary feats (considering the killer isn't in peak physical condition). But what horror film doesn't have us believe the unbelievable?
The lead characters/actors were great. Jeon Juno (Jeong-min Hwang) was a decent lead as a courageous everyman, and Park Chung-bae (Shin-il Kang) was a formidable opponent. He played up the "less is more" approach perfectly, allowing his stares to send chills. Park's wife (Seon Yu) was both beautiful and evil at the same time. The secondary characters were alright, too... though I wasn't overly impressed by Jeon's girlfriend Mina (Seo-hyeong Kim).
The visuals were well done. There was a darkness, but at the same time a crisp feel to the film, showing a sizable production. Many foreign films tend to have a lower budget feel, but this was not one of those. The blood and gore were superb, and I even felt they tended to mix violence and sexuality in a way that is sensually magnificent (particularly towards the end). Not least was the soundtrack, with very simple but effective piano melodies (presumably by Seung-hyun Choi). In some scenes they came off as repetitive, but there was one sad tune that was haunting and pulled me emotionally into the picture against my will.
I have no complaints with the writing, directing, acting, cinematography. This film came together nicely and was effective. All too often, Asian (particularly Japanese) films fall back on the "dream" and "ghost" subgenres of horror. This one stayed far away, giving us a mystery-thriller that was right up the alley of Italian giallo (though more horror than mystery). If you're looking for a good foreign flick, this one's worth a shot... see it before someone tries to remake it (again, since this is in itself a remake).
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