Friday, May 23, 2014

Review: Bedevilled (2010)

Bedevilled (Review)
Jang Cheol-soo/Seo Young-hee/2010
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime 

"...makes for a very satisfying climax..."

After a work incident, Hae-won (Ji Sung-won) travels to an isolated island where she's greeted with open arms by childhood friend Bok-nam (Seo Young-hee), who is treated like a slave by the rest of the community...

The film introduces Hae-won as a cold-hearted, unfeeling banker, while Bok-nam is a optimistic and hard-working young woman. The first half of the film really focuses on the way of the community in this desolate island, particularly how they treat Bok-nam and worship the men of the island. This first half of the film presents us with some unbearably frustrating characters – characters who are psychopaths. It may be difficult to tolerate such purposely annoying characters, but it makes for a very satisfying climax at the halfway mark when tragedy strikes. The second half of the film focuses on the savage vengeance of a woman pushed too far. Although I thought the climax was amazing, I think the ending was half-baked; any sense of redemption is false, in this case.

Bedevilled is a frustrating horror/thriller. Aside from Bok-nam, the characters live to make you angry – I mean, you'll really be infuriated. But, like I said, the frustration is well-worth it as it amplifies the climax. The climax is where the film becomes a bit more of a traditional horror film; the first half sets the mood and atmosphere with its slow-burn and character development, while the second half becomes a procedural slasher. I think the ending will split some audiences due to the relationship between Hae-won and Bok-nam. Personally, I really disliked the use of Hae-won; she's a terrible, terrible person without any justification – she's absolutely horrid and her personality is never explained. Therefore, the ending feels out of place.

Ji Sung-won is great for the character she plays – I may hate the character, but she plays it well. Seo Young-hee steals the show with a fantastic performance – her performance is very versatile, showing many emotions and really embodying the “countryside” character. The music is somber and emotionally-effective. The film is shot beautifully, the scenery is breathtaking. The special effects and makeup are great; those looking for a gory slasher will be pleased. Director Jang Cheol-soo develops a tense first half and great slasher for the second; it does have some pacing issues, though, and I think the characters could have been fine tuned for the ending.

Overall, Bedevilled is a great horror/thriller. Those who hate annoying characters have to tolerate the first half, but the climax is worth it. The story is original and creative, the direction is great, and Seo Young-hee is a perfect leading lady. However, I didn't like the ending – I'm all for unconventional, or unfair endings if you'd like to call it that, but this ending tries too hard to have a feeling of redemption, and it fails.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, nudity and sex.

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