aka GEOUL SOKEURO
Movie Review by Dan Spiers
Starring: Ji-tae Yu, Myeong-min Kim, Hye-na Kim, Ju-bong Gi, Myoeng-su Kim
Director: Kim Seong-ho
INTO THE MIRROR, written and directed by Seong-ho Kim, is a movie that aspires to horror, to suspense and indeed to being a thriller, but in so doing suffers from a crisis of identity. It is a movie of fits and starts, of a striking beginning and interesting ending and something of nothing in between. It is spent as a horror movie after 40 minutes, segues unconvincingly in to suspense and relies on a traditional police investigation to reach a satisfactory conclusion. It is all of these things and less.
The movie revolves around ‘Dreampia’, a monolithic department store that is set to reopen five years after being burnt to the ground. But a series of apparent suicides delay the event, suicides which the head of security Wu Yeong- min (Ji-tae Yu) believes are carried out by the reflections of the victims and suicides that the detective Ha Hyun-su (Myeong- min Kim) has no way of accounting for. The investigation is handicapped by the two men being ex-police colleagues, with Ha Hyun blaming Wu Yeong for the death of a fellow friend and officer.
With the initial impact of the murders passed, the movie relies a great deal on the relationship between these two characters. This is hampered by Ji-tae’s acting style, which is clearly based on the theory of ‘less is more’. He plays a rather sullen young fellow who mopes around Dreampia with something other than mirrors and suicide on his mind. But his expression is as vacuous and uninhabited as the building itself and so he conveys the impression of a man struggling with the loss of his keys rather than the supernatural murder of his co-workers. Naturally the relationship between the two men and the second half of the film suffer as a result.
However, the film can be highly commended for both its direction and cinematography. From the first sequence, in which a character wanders past immense, inanimate escalators, her reflection cannoning off multiple surfaces, and shortly after her blood, red on white, running between tiles on the bathroom floor, it is visually arresting. It’s ironic that although the film has a clear visual balance, with great expanses of squares and rectangles echoing images of symmetry throughout, its narrative fails to settle into any form of pattern. It’s definitely worth having a look, even if you don’t necessarily pay very much attention.