Seen in Jeonju

Nematomorph (2006)

9th January 2010

Orininally posted October 11, 2007–Nematomorph was a short film released at the most recent Jeonju International Film Festival.  Directed by a new director, Choi Seung-min, it features a scene that is far creepier and more suspenseful than any found in most recent full length horror films and demonstrates this young man’s potential to be an innovative director in a genre that is in dire need of fresh ideas.   

Running only 15 minutes, the film is very dark starting off with a slew of images depicting the aftermath of various suicides.  Oddly, every scene of death is accompanied by a great deal of water–even when it seems unneeded. For example, you would expect to see water in a case where someone has jumped off a bridge or killed themselves in a bathtub, but why is there water all over the floor in the case of a hanging?  The radio we hear in the background also indicates that suicide is rising to an almost epidemic proportion. What is causing this?

The movie then quickly settles on the character shown above, actor Ju Seong-min playing Seon-jae, as he drifts emotionlessly through his day.  It is clear that he is very depressed and his parents are not the most understanding of people so the audience soon comes to fear for this man and what his actions may be.  Seon-jae’s room is very disturbing.  He raises lizards and he keeps his room dark except for the light needed for his vivarium.  The light seems quite harsh as is the incessant sound of crickets that he is using for his pets’ food.  The room is anything but inviting–and then there is the bathroom scene.

Seon-jae goes to take a bath in his house which has a huge, extremely well-lit bathroom. Despite its size, it is very bare except for the tub and a mirror that stretches the entire length and height of the wall where the bathtub is. Just looking at it, you know something is going to happen. In a standard horror film, a ghost would pass by seen only in the mirror or something would reach through and grab the hero. But this is not a standard film and what happens original and suspeneful.

Even though the director certainly did not have a large budget for this–it was he senior project as part of his final year at university majoring in Film–the sets  are good and atmosphere that he manages to create rival or surpass any of the big budget movies that we have seen in recent days.  Remember the name Choi Seung-min. I would not be at all surprised to see him directing feature length horror films in the coming years.

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