Horror Month 2009 keeps on a truckin’ with a creature feature!
Written By: Chul-hyun Baek, Joon-ho Bong & Won-jun Ha
Directed By: Joon-ho Bong
I’m sure all of you have a movie or two that you were really digging, a movie that was running on all cylinders and bringing a big smile to your face. Then something changed, maybe it jumped genres, maybe the tone dramatically shifted, whatever the change was, it changed and the movie in question didn’t pull off the change. This describes my experience with Gwoemul, I was in love with the first forty five minutes to an hour, and then the tone shifted, and it tried to jump genres. Gwoemul wasn’t able to pull this off, the final hour pales next to the first hour and I was left with a very disappointing experience.
That’s not to say I need my films to stay in one genre or only present one tone throughout, however there is a time when you cross a line. Gwoemul firmly places itself as a comedy along the lines of Shaun Of The Dead in its first hour, it’s so entrenched as a comedy that when Joon-ho Bong switches the presentation of the film it’s a real head scratcher. There are no less than four different movies in that last hour, a creature feature, a slapstick comedy, a message movie and a serious drama. None of the four ever come together to form one cohesive film and none of the other three are ever able to match the comedy of the first hour.
That first hour makes quite an impact though, it instantly reminded me of the already mentioned Shaun Of The Dead and I found it very, very funny. The family is kooky and they are out of this world, but I loved their interactions. The humor is very dry, almost Reno 911! so dry it’s almost too dry type humor. But, much like Reno 911!, that first hour never becomes too dry and remains consistently funny. That’s what upset me so much about the final hour, none of the lightheartedness of the story set up in the first hour is paid off in the final hour. A movie shouldn’t be that disjointed, especially when Bong shows in that first hour that he knows what he is doing behind the camera.
I know I am in the minority on this one, just about everyone I know loved Gwoemul. It isn’t a bad film, there is obvious skill on display. The monster looks good, except for in the horrendous looking fire scene at the end, and I liked the cast. This is a fractured movie however, a movie that tries to be too much and can’t sustain itself past the first hour as a result. Leave that monster in the water where it belongs and stay away from Gwoemul, unless you are one of the many that has already jumped into the river and ever looked back.