Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: The Guard Post (aka GP 506) (2008)

The Guard Post (aka GP 506) (Review)
Kong Su-chang/Chun Ho-jin/2008
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"I liked the horror, but I thought the mystery was half-baked."

Sergeant Major Noh (Chun Ho-jin) arrives at Guard Post 506 where all of the soldiers were killed except for one...

The Guard Post follows Noh as he investigates the mysterious incident. The soldiers were slaughtered by a fellow soldier – a man found drenched in blood, holding an axe and laughing deviously when first found. Through several journal entries and some interrogations, Noh begins to piece together the event. However, the conflicting stories cause Noh to suspect several possibilities: Did they go crazy? Was there an illness spreading? The Guard Post, through its messy storytelling, leads to a bloody finale – it doesn't answer every question, but it is satisfying in other ways.

The Guard Post is a horror-mystery film. It's not your traditional horror film, though. This film focuses more on its tense and ominous atmosphere, as well as some gory visuals; there is also some great suspense and tension during several of its sequences. The mystery is interesting, but the execution is flawed. The constant jumps from flashback to present are too much – sometimes it jumps to the past without warning, other times you see it coming, like during an interrogation; the investigation becomes overwhelming due to the sloppy storytelling. There are a few twists and turns, but they don't pack much of a punch. I liked the horror, but I thought the mystery was half-baked. Otherwise, I also thoroughly enjoyed the settings – it's perfect in creating its spooky atmosphere.

Although he doesn't play the lead often, Chun Ho-jin is great – his performance isn't too demanding, but his appearance and performance really fit the stern character he plays. The rest of the cast is also good, but there aren't many standouts. The music fits the tense atmosphere well; sometimes it's a little to epic, though. The film is shot nicely; a bit too dark at times, otherwise it looks great. The visual effects were great, although a bit hard to see due to the darkness of the movie. The English subtitles in the Netflix Instant stream has some flaws; some of the sentences are not complete, so you only understand the first half; for example, the subtitles translate like this “North and South Korea are...” and the subtitles don't complete the sentence, so you have to guess a bit. Director Kong Su-chang does well in creating the horror atmosphere, and in creating some tense moments, but the mystery is muddled by the sloppy storytelling.

Overall, The Guard Post is a good movie. The horror aspects will be appreciated by fans of atmospheric and slow-burn horror movies, like myself. But, the mystery is too confusing, particularly because of the convoluted storytelling. In fact, this is the second time I watch this film, and I still feel like it didn't get all of it – I understood what it was about, but I just don't feel satisfied.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some partial nudity.

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