It’s rare to find a horror that’s both frightening and genuinely moving, though The Closet pulls this off with confidence, and is all the more effective for its depth
Director Kwang-bin Kim’s thoughtful script grows on you. The realm of the dead land he creates, thanks to a visionary tech crew, is just enough to scare you. It looks like the sparse set of an Asian opera—if it was in your nightmares. Frightening sound effects, odd set design and weird props (an array of dolls) populate the normal world and the devil’s way station. As the horror becomes more intense, composer Yeong-wook Jo knows just how to tweak the squeaky violins to make you squirm.
The adult actors provide a strong base. Jung-woo Ha keeps his father character on that precipice of change long enough to capture empathy. Nam-gil Kim (Memoir of a Murderer), as the mysterious man who aids Sang-won, adds needed comic relief, especially when he slurps noodles. However, the little girls upstage the grownups. Yool Heo, though she sulks most of the film, finds a way to make you feel sorry for her. When she cries it breaks your heart. Si-ah Kim’s portrayal of Myung Jin, the demon girl leader, is the most disturbing. When she menaces you shiver. When she sobs, her sadness is so primal she makes the heavens rain.
Somewhere in this cloud of reality, mysticism and intrigue is a lesson on the importance of loving children before you love yourself. Parents beware. Take the hint. If you neglect your offspring these little imps are coming for you. Sprinting zombies aside, 2020 has been a bit of a lean year for Korean horror, and so it’s hard for genre fans not to approach debut writer-director Kim Kwang-bin’s The Closet with at least a touch of hopeful enthusiasm, despite its rather familiar-sounding title. The film’s prospects were also boosted by the presence of Ha Jung-woo, one of Korea’s most popular and acclaimed actors, fantastic in The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, and recently in blockbusters including Ashfall and the Along with the Gods series, and it did well at the domestic box office, opening in the top spot, as well as having a limited international release.
The film is well-directed, well acted, entails a good production
Ha Jung-woo as Sang-won
Kim Nam-gil as Kyung-hoon
Heo Yool as Yi-na
Kim Shi-A as Myung-jin
Shin Hyun-bin as Seung-hee
Kim Soo-jin as Myung-jin’s mother
Park Sung-woong as Myung-jin’s father
Park Ji-a as Shaman
Pulls this off with confidence, and is all the more effective for its depth
The film is about a man who grows apart from his daughter following the death of his wife, and an exorcist who helps the man and his daughter. After Sang-Won’s daughter Yi-Na goes missing in their new home, a mysterious man approaches him and tells him to look for her in the closet.
Genre: Mystery & Thriller, Horror
Original Language: Korean
Director: Kim Gwang-bin
Producer: Yoon Jong-bin, Ha Jung-woo
Writer: Kwon Seong-hwi
Release Date (Streaming): Dec 15, 2020
Runtime: 1h 38m
Country: South Korea