0 comments 📅31 July 2017, 13:51


Release: TBC
From: Lotte Entertainment
Certificate: 15
Director: Lee Soo-yeon
Starring: Cho Jin-woong, Shin Goo, Kim Dae-myung, Lee Chung-ah.

Seung-hoon can’t help but stare when he walks past the butcher’s shop beneath his apartment. “They’re the killers,” he tells himself as he watches the butcher and his father cut through a beef flank, he can’t hide his brazen disgust as he looks at them. No one has been able to catch them in decades but he’s sure they’re the ones.

The discovery of a decapitated body in the Han River and an illicit confession from the butcher’s father under anaesthetic has convinced him, now all he has to do is catch them in the act – if only his mind would stop playing tricks on him.

After losing his clinic and family when he went bankrupt, it takes all Seung-hoon has to keep himself afloat. Living alone in a cramped bed-sit, he now works in a friend’s surgery performing endoscopies on the town’s elderly inhabitants. It’s not exactly the life he had hoped for, and his days working in the centre of Seoul are long gone. When he believes he’s discovered the butcher’s secret things start to change. His paranoia begins to set in and very quickly everyone starts to look like a suspect in an overlying plot to harm innocent women, his wife included.

Shot with Seung-hoon’s crumbling psyche in mind, Lee Soo-Youn’s film is difficult to follow. Scenes are cut haphazardly, and moments in between conversations are often completely omitted to add an air of mystery to the narrative. It’s only in the final act that we can really get to grips with the story at hand, but by that point it’s already too late. Too much of our time has been spent in the maze that Seung-hoon desperately tries to navigate, we end up just as lost as he is and the vast amount of, “It was only a dream” sequences are especially frustrating. Even moments which are meant to build tension or create scares – like when Seung-hoon tries to confront the butcher about his missing wife – ultimately fail to pay off. While this chaotic storytelling is intended to make us doubt what we see onscreen, by the time the truth actually comes out it all seems so pointless.

Cho Jin-woong does well in the role of the unstable doctor. He gives his character a subtle vulnerability, and aptly presents his slow descent into madness. It can even be said that he one of the only good things about the film, since it’s his nuanced performance that keeps the narrative from completely falling apart. It’s not that actors like Kim Dae-myung, who plays the butcher Sung-geun, aren’t able to do well in their roles, it’s just that the narrative doesn’t give them the opportunity do so.

This is a bleak story, filled with holes and an unsatisfying ending. The potential was there; it’s even possible to see the great story that the film could have had hidden beneath the surface. The icy narrative, and frustrating presentation, doesn’t give it the chance work. With so many other great Korean serial killer films like Memories Of Murder out there, it’s hard not to wonder what Bluebeard could have been.

Review by Roxy Simons

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