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Cruel Innocence

Posted December. 27, 2007 03:01,   


The production company, as well as its director Lim Pil-seong (Antarctic Journal, 2004), was concerned that the movie was “not scary enough,” and kept emphasizing that the movie does not belong to the “horror” genre.

They are right. The move due to open today, “Hansel and Gretel,” has “sadness” as its main theme. The movie is a cruel fairy tale and shows a role reversal unlike the original tale of Hansel and Gretel that we know. In the original tale, a witch captured the children, while the movie is about children spooking grown-ups.

Eun-soo (Cheon Jeong-myeong) wakes up after getting lost in the middle of a forest. He comes across a girl named Yeong-hee (Shim Eun-gyeong) and she takes him to a house where her older brother Manbok (Eun Won-jae) and younger sister Jeong-soon (Jin Ji-hee) live along with their parents. He arrives in a picturesque house but there is something strange about the family. He cannot find his way out of the forest, even though he tries hard to.

Ryu Seong-hee, a production designer who was in charge of the background and sets of “Old Boy”; “A Bittersweet Life”; and “Monster,” and Kim Ji-yong, who introduced the beautiful cinematography in “Forbidden Quest” and “A Bittersweet Life,” created scene after scene of illustrations looking like they just came out of a children’s book with mystery and illusion. This is no ordinary fairy tale-adapted movie. At a glimpse, the house is filled with colorful toys and cookies and seems cozy, but a closer look reveals the true color of the house: cartoons on TV showing mutilated body parts, grotesque patterns of wallpaper, and weird-looking dolls. Overall, it gives out an uncomfortable, rather than terrifying ambience.

Frequent close-up scenes create an uncanny mood. When the smiling face of someone is shot up-close and personal, it shows the person’s true emotions. Amplifying the sound of gulping down water or other muted sounds, or exaggerating little actions like perspiring with one drop of sweat or shaking one’s legs also feels creepy. The child actors in the film did a marvelous job of expressing the eeriness hidden behind their innocent looks.

Even with all these positive aspects of the movie, which has a creepy mood, there seems to be nothing else to see. In the later part of the movie, children explain secrets, but they are not so revealing or thrilling. Many moviegoers may feel uncomfortable when they see scenes insinuating the children are being raped, even though that is the reason children lose their innocence and become cruel. The movie is for ages 12 and up.