Seen in Jeonju

Dark Forest (2006)

9th January 2010

dark forestOriginally posted July 23, 2007–Yesterday I watched the Korean zombie movie Dark Forest. I had received it about a month ago when I purchased the horror collection, One Day Suddenly. I remember having seen it once before on tv…come to think of it, I saw it the on tv the same summer it was released–that should have told me something. I also realized after watching it, that I had seen the edited version on television not long before. 

The movie is unfortunately the weekest of the collection which makes it especially disappointing as zombie films are so rare in Korean cinema.  My biggest problem with the film was not the low budget or even the oddly convuluted story (Psychic visions? Why?). The biggest problem I had was the blatent misogyny on display. Many slasher movies suffer from the same discrepancy in how they deal with their male and female characters. The males often encounter a quick death and frequently the actual event occurs offscreen. Women, on the other hand, often endure long horrifying deaths for the pleasure of …ummm..who exactly?  Certainly not the audience.  Dark Forest takes this situation to a new and even more disturbing level when one of the characters is raped with a knife held by a zombie. Why this unnecessary cruelty? In a slasher movie, someone could make a weak arguement about the sexual deviance of the killer–but this film is about zombies!

Most of the action that occurs in Dark Forest was completely forgettable but one thing made me think about the movie long after the credits rolled—the message written in the matchbook.  One character claims to be trying to quit smoking.  His girlfriend writes a note behind the matches that he won’t be able to see until the matches have been all used. The subtitles claim this message reads “Why don’t you quit?” but that is not what it says. It actually reads “You bad man” followed by the symbols for tears used in text messaging and internet chatting.  Given that he discovers the note when he is about to burn a character to death to prevent them from turning into a zombie, wouldn’t the literal translation have been more poignant and fitting?

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