Blood, Thrills and Horror: South Korean Films You Just Can’t Miss
They are gripping, edge of the seat entertainers and inventive - no surprise then that South Korean films have increasingly become a favourite with Indian cinephiles. So much so that South Korea was featured under the ‘Country Focus’ section at the International Film Festival of India held in Goa last month - 18 Korean films played out at the fest, almost all of them from the crime thriller, psychological horror genre.
Film critic and journalist Ranjib Mazumder believes that if anyone has to be introduced to world cinema, they should begin with South Korea’s films. They’re mainstream and at the same time offer superior content and technique. He says that The Wailing, which released this year, has all the makings of a Bollywood film but it has truly redefined the modern horror classic.
I Saw The Devil is another such film. Though, violent, this film purges the idea of how ‘revenge’ makes you a monster. Tell that to filmmakers in India who glorify the heroes sacrificing everything to go down the path of vengeance.
Over the years, many Bollywood films have been ‘inspired’ from Korean cinema. Back in 2006, Park Chan-wook’s Old Boy - the story of a 15-year-long revenge tale had been given a romantic twist along with an ‘acceptable’ narrative shift for desi viewers in Sanjay Gupta’s Zinda.
After this a string of Korean films saw remakes in Hindi right up to the recent Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan-starrer Te3n. But the Bollywood approach has always been to water down the content and storyline to suit Indian audience, making it high on emotion and melodrama. In Bollywood, psychological thrillers become predictable romantic sagas. For e.g. check out how Mohit Suri and company maimed South Korean original - I Saw the Devil.
Devarsh Thaker, a film buff who actively seeks interesting world cinema finds Korean films-noir appealing and is blown away by the techniques used to take the narrative forward. But even if our filmmakers made a pure unadulterated psychological thriller, he doesn’t believe the theatre-goers in India are ready to watch such films. “The audiences will not go for these kind of films because they only want to be entertained. When they go to watch a film in cinema halls, pay money for it; they don’t want anything realistic. They just want mirch and masala. Indians only come to the theatre to get entertained,” he says.
He believes Indian films lack small moments that can make a film great. Mostly because too much time is spent showing slo-mo and heightened drama.
Mihir Fadnavis, film critic and cinema junkie disagrees. He believes that if we begin the process of making this kind of cinema, then the audiences will also slowly come to accept it.
“If we make this kind of cinema, then audiences will watch it. Our cinema does not offer anything remotely similar to their cinema. When Old Boy released in South Korea, no one accepted it there as well. But they slowly came to accept it. If we make such films, people will eventually watch it,” says Mihir.
So, if you haven’t taken the leap, here are seven films recommended by Mihir and Ranjib that can ignite your interest in this genre:
Train to Busan
Train to Busan is a must-watch for horror fans. The film is a really gripping tale of a zombie outbreak on a train with an interesting father-daughter relationship.
Memories of Murder
Memories of Murder is a story about two big city detectives helping two small-town cops hunt down a serial killer.
If vampires are your thing, then you must watch this one.
Park Chan-wook’s brilliant and gripping film, Old Boy takes revenge thrillers to dizzying heights.
I Saw The Devil
Another brilliant revenge thriller sure to make you sit on the edge.
This film is going to win a lot of awards this year for redefining modern classic horror.
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring
Directed by Kim Ki-duk, this film is unlike the others in this list. It’s a story about spirituality and appreciating the little joys of life.
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