Seen in Jeonju

The Pot (2009)

22nd November 2009

potTo begin with, The Pot was not the film that I thought I would be reviewing today.  Yesterday I had eagerly sat myself down and popped in Song Yeong-su’s 1988 film The Wolf’s Curiosity Stole the Pigeon which had recently been released on DVD.  I should have realized that the movie was going to be a little iffy when I saw the original title does not match what the film is now being called.  In English on the original posters, The Wolf’s Curiosity is called Lassie and the Horny Guy.  That should have been a warning.  I wound up turning off the film after just thirty minutes.  I had said to myself that if the girl was raped one more time, I would turn off the DVD player.  Lo and behold, she gets into the car of yet another stranger and is raped.  I gave up and decided to watch something else.

The movie I decided to watch was The Pot a low-budget horror film from new director Kim Tae-gon.  I had heard many good things about the film, including from’s own Q , and I wanted to see it for myself.  The title of the film takes a little time to comprehend.  The Korean word ‘Dok’ can mean both ‘pot’ and ‘poison’–so why was pot chosen? Dok is a certain type of pot–not the kind used to boil water.  Instead, it is a large clay pot with a lid often in the back of old Korean houses.  It is important for fermenting kimchi, soy sauce and bean paste.  ‘To ferment’ is a tasteful way to say ‘to rot’.  And that is exactly what is happening to the seemingly happy family at the center of the film.

This family consisting of a father, a very pregnant mother, and their daughter.  However we can immediately see that their is something straining at their relationship.  The father, named Hyeong-gook, seems to be barely speaking to his wife Yeong-ae. And their daughter’s disrespect of her mother grows throughout the movie.  Besides the strain of a new job, the family must deal some odd new neighbors who thrust their religious beliefs on them and show an unnatural interest in the couple’s daugher Mi-ae.

As you watch the movie, a mystery begins to unfold and the secret guilt the characters hide manifests itself frequently in the form of water.  Water plays a key plot point in the film and the water in small family’s new apartment becomes increasingly rotten and foul. From the single drop of blood in the fishtank and its continuingly cloudy water, the the disgusting sludge that spews from the drain, to odd drop of water that drips from the old woman on the stairs (yes, it was only water–Hyeong-gook sniffs at it and doesn’t react in disgust)

Director Kim does an excellent job in building up atmosphere however, the movie doesn’t really ’scare’ in the way we’ve come to expect horror films in recent years..even during some very unnatural dream sequences. My only real complaint comes from the lighting.  I realize that when there are no lights, it should be dark and the director opted from this realistic approach.  However, it makes it very difficult to see what is going on onscreen much of the time.  Even when there are lights are lit, they appear to get dimmer as the movie progresses.

The Pot is not a horror film that keep you up all night. But it is one that will keep you thinking as the reason behind the strange events becomes clear.

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