In 2009, Na Hong-jin had made everyone agree with his first film, experiencing The Chaser. For his third feature film, south Korean director remains in the thriller, but goes on the ground is more risky : the fantastic.

Any part of a man killing his wife, a beginning basic police investigation in sum. Except that the alleged offender has the rolling eyes and reveals strange body marks. There, it is already more fishy. And we will stop at this stage regarding the story of the film as it is based on many surprises. Na Hong-jin likes to play with the nerves of the spectator. The scenario is divided into three time where our judgment (and that of the main character) about the cause of the murders does that change.

For this, it uses codes very specific, very marked. Too marked the same. So well that they seem to be too big, as if it detected a manipulation of the writer wanting us to believe in the fantastic and at the end we turn towards the rational. It has the force to insist on, we started to believe in this supernatural story. The animal skulls, burning candles, the strange people wandering in the forest, dreams shady, and then a shaman… All this imagery hammered endlessly by the film seeps into our perception in order to force us to accede to it. In order to better surprise us, lead us by boat. In this sense, we think of the last project ofAmenabar, Regression, which used the big shots to stimulate our imagination and demonstrate the power of the images. THE STRANGERS questions at the same time our beliefs and those of the characters. Should we believe rumors ? We have a good collection of events ? It is important to take for granted a story that we tell, or better-he will make up his own mind on the situation ?

More generally, THE STRANGERS questions our relationship to the story. The stranger said to one of the characters : “what’s the good of you to say since you have already found it ? “. The changing situation want to clearly demonstrate that it is not necessary to stop on our idea, even if everything combines to approve it. This pic of certainty is reached several times, and each time that you think you finally have the key to history, the story likes to surprise us. A little too much in the last act, resulting in a final dragged on at a hair in his research of suspense, which makes it lose its effectiveness.

“Na Hong-Jin delivers his best film, a harrowing dive into the bowels of Evil.”

Punctuated by many breaks of tone and hilarious, the film combines, as often in Korean cinema, the pure film genres seriously, and the tiny stages of comedy, growths as brief and efficient. We laugh above all the wickedness of the director, not hesitating to charge into the grotesque or the gallows humour, the image of that joint is hilarious where it goes into a cut of a plane on a corpse to another on the grilled meat is The very choice of the main hero expresses the desire to shift. Do Won Kwak interpreter a cop that it’s hard to take seriously. Certainly, he has the uniform, but it seems to go through the scenes of murders, as a lost soul, showing a lack of savvy, blatant and a timid character. At the beginning of the film, when he arrives at the first crime scene, it does not behave like an inspector of detective films so-called “normal”. It is recessed behind a crowd of other agents. Although it is subject to what we are laughing at him, this character is the reflection of the viewer, totally lost and overwhelmed by the flood of information and the folly of the facts. He is caught in a vise standing of contradictions, torn between believing so-and-so or so-and-so.

THE STRANGERS begins with a display of violence, imposing and maintains this rate during 2h36. Na Hong-jin does not play the card of the dimming as he begins beating the drum of accumulating the dead. The ordinary course of a film of this kind trips in the first act, notifying us that it’s something else, more than a simple story of murder. A strength that the story before, one thinks inevitably to another great movie Korean evil : I Saw The Devil (I met the Devil, Kim Jee-woon) to the point of saying that this title will be better suited to this project. The same process is used by moving slowly the cursor of the evil between the good guy and the bad guy. More than that, THE STRANGERS clearly says that evil is everywhere, that it has crept into families, which can infect men, women and children. The nihilism shown by Na Hong-jin we saw as much as his talent to deploy to a staging class and virtuoso. The film is nothing other than an in-depth exploration into the bowels of Evil, as if we were trapped in a nightmare from which we cannot extricate himself. We thought we had seen a lot already for more than 2 hours, but the enjoyable up to the endianness of the last reel finished us. Na Hong-jin delivers his best film proving that he can trôner proudly alongside the other masters of Korean cinema contemporary.

Published on may 18, 2016.

Maxime Bedini
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