Seen in Jeonju

Moodori (2006)

6th August 2012

79596Sometimes I buy movies for the very reason that I know nothing about them.  Moodori is one of those films. I knew the basic outline of the plot but I really knew nothing else about it. And apparently, when the DVD arrived, I simply filed it alphabetically and never thought about it again until the other day when I was browsing through the shelves wondering what to watch and it caught my eye…barely.  I absolutely hate the DVD cover and the posters made to promote the film. They seem to eager to depict more of the slapstick side of the film which a) I could have done without and b) if you were going into this expecting pure comedy, you would be sorely disappointed.  I think those in charge of marketting would have done themselves better by advertising the movie as a black comedy along the lines of A Quiet Family.. (and have the film’ s editor leave some of the more base comic scenes on the cutting room floor)

I actually found the situation the film sets up rather interesting. Basically, there is a remote village at the base of a mountain whose north face is a sheer cliff.  The area is said to be haunted and looking over the ledge at the mists below can “make even the sane ones want to jump.”  Because of this, the area has become a destination of poor despondent souls seeking to leave this wordly coil behind.  However, when one of the elderly residents of this small village receives money from a mourning father as both a thank you for finding his son’s body and suicide note to him and as an apology for ‘disturbing the quiet of this peaceful village’ a mercenary streak emerges among the three most prominent members of the community.  They come up with a plan to fleece the suicidal visitors who come to the village for as much as they can get before their lives are ended by building an inn and a small mart where they can charge pretty much whatever they want.  At some point, they start taking things a step further by stripping some of the more valuable personal items from the bodies such as bejeweled hair clips and wondering if one not-yet-dead guest has gold teeth.  There actions and attitudes become increasingly repugnant until ironic tragedy strikes. Frankly, I was expecting some sort of ironic tragedy to make an appearance as the screenplay was clearly building towards it, but even I was caught offguard at the nature of the event that forces everyone to reconsider what they are doing.

Complications occur with the presence of an online suicide club that has made its way to the mountain. Almost cultlike, they have a series of rules they feel they must follow in order to correctly kill themselves and achieve happiness in the next world. And unknown to everyone, a down-and-out reporter has infiltrated the group thinking that she is on the story of the decade.  She is more than happy to play at being one of them but when the time comes for them to kill themselves en masse, she has to frantically come up with ways to keep them all –and especially herself– alive.

While most of the movie was not bad, and some of it had quite a bit of potential as a dark comedy, the reporter and her producer are where the film fails. Many of their interactions take the form of that lowest form of comedy–bathroom humor.  In particular the farsical PD spends all but his first and last scenes on the toilet talking to the reporter with a strained grimace across his face and the conversations punctuate by farts.  Really not at all my style.. and it adds absolutely nothing to the film.  The PD, beyond his first appearance does not serve a function in the film at all except for cheap ‘laughs’–if anyone actually laughs at this kind of humor.

What really surprised me was that this reporter whom I thought was chewing up every scene she appears in with her overacting, was none other than Seo Yeong-hee.  Ms Seo played the memorable murderess in the excellent film Bedevilled a few years ago. I can say with confidence that comedy is NOT her forte, however she seems to have made several attempts at it.  Looking at her filmography, I see she has appeared in movies such as Liar, Mapado, and Fortune Salon.  Compare those films with other, non-comic films she has  appeared in such as Chaser, To Sir With Love and Bedevilled and..well.. there is no comparison. So please, Ms Seo, don’t make any more comedies…

Moodori is available on DVD with English subtitles.. If you can get it from the discount bin, I recommend picking it up… but only from the discount bin..

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