A remake of the 2012 Spanish film The Body, directed by Oriol Paulo, the thriller doesn’t just simply ask the question.
“The Vanished” is a thriller which is gripping at all times and knows how to captivate its audience with a nice plot. What is especially noteworthy is the fact that the movie refrained from dragging the story out unnecessarily, which seems common practice for most movies of that genre, nowadays. Instead, we get 101 minutes of running time and a neatly packed thriller with film noir elements. The original plot, however, was not penned by a Korean author, “The Vanished” is a remake of a Spanish thriller called “The Body” by Oriol Paulo. It seems trendy in Korea to look to Europe for suitable scripts to adapt, as “Intimate Strangers” is further proof of. But once again Korean filmmakers showed a good sense of taste and reeled in material for a thriller which surprises you with a twist at every corner. How believable the whole thing is, is another question.
Director Lee Chang-hee plays with different kinds of genres in his debut work. The opening scene reminds us of a horror movie, which shouldn’t come as a surprise as it takes place in a morgue. But as the movie progresses, there are little bits and pieces of horror elements, too. However, this seems a little bit forced, as at some point we already know that the wife is either still alive or Park sees ghosts because of his guilt-ridden conscious. Let’s stay with the negative aspects for a moment as this feeling of forcing things upon the viewer arises in other situations, as well. For example, director Lee wants to establish a certain kind of dynamic by following the investigators with the camera while they are talking about the case’s details. This might be a tribute to the original (which, unfortunately, I haven’t seen), but the viewer is not sucked into the movie by that, but rather gets more aware of the fact that he is actually watching a movie at the moment…
Detective Woo is played by Kim Sang-kyung (“Montage”) with a healthy portion of weirdness. Woo’s disinterest in the case disappears quickly, or maybe it was just faked to unsettle Park, when he finds the first pieces of evidence against him. Strangely enough, though, he doesn’t listen to Park’s words at all. But he has a reason for that. No character actually shows everything he/she knows, which is what makes “The Vanished” so gripping without getting frustrating. Despite the aforementioned weaknesses – the direction could have turned out a little bit better and the characters remain a little bit unspectacular -, thriller fans get exactly what they wished for. The plot might not be as brilliant as some critics made it out to be, but you get enough twists for two movies. For that, the movie certainly deserves a recommendation.
The thriller doesn’t just simply ask the question
Kim Sang-kyung as Woo Jung-sik
Kim Kang-woo as Park Jin-han
Kim Hee-ae as Yoon Seol-hee
Han Ji-an as Hye-jin
Lee Ji-hoon as Seok-won
Seo Hyun-woo as Dong-gu
Lee Min-ji as Sook-kyung
The plot twist in the end is just mind blowing!
Yoon Seol-hee, a famous married chaebol, recently died. On the day of her funeral, her body was mysteriously stolen. Detective Jung-sik investigated the case and requested the presence of Seol-hee’s husband, professor Park Jin-han. Before the meet up with Jin-han, it turned out that Jin-han had had a secret affair with a student, whom he rushed to right after the funeral to find comfort.
At the police station, a series of bizarre events led Jin-han to believe that his wife was still alive. It was revealed that Jin-han, a long time ago, had spent time to study a new form of drug, which later turned out to be toxic to the body. This drug could paralyse the nervous system and cause death leaving no evidence behind. Jin-han, discussed with his mistress Hye -jin, attempted to poison Seol-hee so they could be together. There was one small hole in his plot, to which Jin-han trusted that it led to the failure of the plan, was the effect of the toxic could be blocked by the use of illicit drugs.
Afraid that his might-still-be-alive wife could harm Hye-jin, Jin-han spit out the truth of his relationship with Hye-jin. However, more and more evidence shows the connection of Jin-han to his wife’s death, which led detective Jung-sik to believe that Jin-han poisoned his wife and stole the body to interfere with the examination of the body. Despite the furious Chief, Jin-Han persisted to search for the missing body. More questions led back to the so-called lying Jin-han, as the police found the place which he claimed to be the house of his mistress Hye-jin and found nothing but an empty house. They assumed Jin-han was buying more time around so he could get rid of the body. Meanwhile, Jin-han got more nervous as he knew what his wife could do.
Jin-han kept getting messages from the number of died Seol-hee, telling him to go to the place where they “had their secret” together. After being released from the police station, Jin-han rushed to an isolated house of his possess and made his way into the forest nearby. He then bumped into detective Jung-sik who had been following him. From this point, mysteries started to be unfolded.
Years ago, detective Jung-sik was soon to be a married man. However, his wife died in a car accident and her body disappeared since. Her little sister remembered nothing but a logo from the car, which Jung-sik could use to trace back to the company which Jin-han and his wife owned. From there, Jung-sik began to plot his revenge with the help Hye-jin, who turned out to be his girlfriend’s sister. Jung-sik himself stole the body of Seol-hee and left hints behind to which Jin-han, out of guilt, imaginarily matched them with the doing of Seol-hee. At the end, Jung-sik achieved his purpose: Finding the body of his late girlfriend and successfully framed Jin-han into murdering and stealing Seol-hee’s body. The film ended with Jung-sik and Hye- jin driving far away.
Release date: March 7, 2018 (South Korea)
Director: Lee Chang-hee
Box office: US$10 million
Adapted from: El cuerpo
Production companies: Sidus Corporation; MCMC; Double & Joy Pictures