Review

Review

FEARNET Movie Review: 'Hide and Seek'

up
14

hide and seekIt sure seems like a lot of Asian horror films have to do with real estate in one way or another. I'm thinking specifically of the Grudge series from Japan and the rather excellent Dream Home (2010) from Hong Kong, but I'm certain there are several others. (Hey, I needed a clever opening.) And of course I brought up that first point because I have another solid import to add to the list: Korea's Hide and Seek, which comes from first-time writer/director Jung Huh, and was a pretty big hit in its native country.

 
Best described as a mystery/thriller that delves deeply into horror territory by the time the kinetically entertaining third act shows up, Hide and Seek ("Sum-bakk-og-jil" in Korean) starts out with a creepy little misdirection of a subplot that makes a lot more sense later on, but is mainly about a dour and fastidious middle-aged family man (Son Hyun-joo) who learns that his long-estranged brother -- one who was once banished from the family for reasons of a horrific nature -- has gone missing. This brings the disinterested but guilt-ridden Sung-soo to an apartment complex full of secrets, mysteries, weird ladies, unhappy children, and squatters who live inside empty rooms and burrow into occupied living quarters. It all gets pretty weird.
 
Jung Huh's screenplay strikes an enjoyable balance between the main story (Sung-soo quickly discovers all sorts of disturbing things about his missing brother, which immediately puts his pretty wife and two adorable kids in serious danger) and the "flashback" material that explains why our ostensible hero is so unhappy, so obsessive, and so damn guilt-ridden about the fate of his long-lost brother. 
 
But worthwhile subplots and legitimate character development are not necessarily the main course here; they merely serve as a welcome garnish to the film's main course of suspense, scares,and unexpected surprises. At its best moments, Hide and Seek doles out both "crowd-pleasing" moments of hardcore suspense and a handful of sequences that horror fans will certainly appreciate. And for a first-time feature director, Jung Huh certainly knows how to stage a scene, shoot it well, and cut it together for maximum intensity.
 
Hide and Seek is not exactly a deep or highly insightful piece of horror / thriller / mystery filmmaking, nor is it exactly all that original, but it is well-made and slickly effective, and it has no problem juggling three complementary genres at the same time. You may see some of the twists coming, but you might not. And some of the scarier bits are just plain old fun.
<none>