Korean movie review: Haunters
Story: Cho-in (Gang Dong-won) can make people do things. With just a stare from his eerie peepers, he could make you jump off a cliff or even freeze you. We are shown how, as a child, he is hated by his abusive dad and feared by his mother. When he saw his father beating up his mother one day, the young Cho-in uses his powers to push his father into killing himself. But his mother repays his deed by trying to kill him. It was probably that betrayal that led him on this lonely and destructive path. From then on Cho-in was in pure survival mode. As an adult, Cho-in uses his abilities to steal the money he needs and to live in luxury hotels for free.
During one such robbery, he meets Kyu-nam (Go Soo) who is immune to his powers. Kyu-nam ends up being Cho-in’s pursuer, much to his annoyance. Kyu-nam tries to stop Cho-in with the help of his buddies Bubba (Enes Kaya) from Ghana and Al (Abu Dodd) from Turkey. But Kyu-nam doesn’t realise that he will pay a high price for his heroics.
Thoughts: This supernatural thriller earned up to US$13mil, and no wonder: The film is atmospheric and writer-director Kim Min-seok is an able man at the wheel for his debut.
Gang impresses as the soulless Cho-in, yet despite his feral-ness, he is still a sympathetic character. Go Soo is also good as the normal guy who ends up playing hero despite feeling scared as hell.
Kaya and Dodd are a revelation. Man, not only are they fluent in Korean, they are great actors too. Now, how often have you seen foreigners in Korean dramas that can act?
Haunters’ story may remind you of M. Night Shymalan’s Unbreakable. But the story is subtle without resorting to extreme displays of violence to thrill you. The show doesn’t spell things out though, so some mysteries don’t get explained, but it’s okay because there are enough clues for you to come to your own conclusions.
What I like: Gang’s dead-eyed stare. And how the director/writer never tells you exactly what’s up with Kyu-nam. (And I’m not tellin’ either.)