Pandora’s Box is an advisory column in which I watch a film based solely on its cover art, or box if you will, and determine whether or not it’s worth your time when you’re perusing the horror section of Instant Netflix. I do no research and watch no trailers, these films are completely and 100% unknown to me. You shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but I intend to do so with these movies. Will I uncover a glimmer of hope for my strange viewing habits or utter despair? We won’t know until I open…Pandora’s Box.
What Grabbed Me
A film that a lot of the staff hasn’t seen for a while and will hopefully one day soon see again is The Loved Ones, based on the premise of a high school girl who kidnaps boys she’s interested in and hosts a prom in her home while torturing them. A film called Bloody Reunion with a handcuffed kid strapped to a wooden chair conjured up some of the memories I had of The Loved Ones. Those were my thoughts about the art that grabbed me. The art of the box itself is just kinda cool and has an aura of dementedness to the type of violence that ensued before and after she was strapped to that chair. Plus it’s an Asian film, so you know there will be violence and blood out of every place it can come out of. At least I think/hope so.
Bloody Reunion starts out very ominously. A pregnant teacher is on a field trip with some elementary aged students when she starts bleeding. Cut to an intense birthing scene, and a distraught father who, some years later, takes that child into a basement. He eventually hangs himself while that child, now around nine or ten years old (and revealed to be disfigured), sits quietly at his desk and writes.
We’re then taken to a building where an inspector has discovered a bloody room with five bodies. He’s obviously encountered an intense case right before he’s due to retire (yes, he is too old for this shit). The investigation leads to a woman beside the hospital bed of the teacher at the beginning of the film. The woman beside the bed recounts a reunion that was planned by a number of the teacher’s, Mrs. Park’s, old students. Each student seemingly had a genuine amount of affection for the teacher until it’s revealed that each one holds a grudge against Mrs. Park for moments that were only fleeting to her, but obviously damaging to those students.
Despite the film alluding to the students gathering up the nerve to kill their teacher, at some point, the former students are the ones being killed in rather brutal ways by a mysterious killer wearing a strange bunny mask. The kills are incredibly inventive and, as stated before, brutal, but even that description doesn’t do these demented acts the justice they deserve. Koreans know revenge, and they know murder, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone at this point and Bloody Reunion is no exception. There simply has to be another word for what these characters go through, because it isn’t torture. It feels like it’s worse than that.
Hope or Despair
It’s very much a slasher film, and it does have some familiar horror genre staples that we’ve seen time and time again. Even though the storytelling elements get a little repetitive, this is an incredibly well made film. Filled with creepy images, cringe-inducing (in the best way) kill sequences, and all the gore a horror fan could ever want, practical gore too. Beyond that though, it’s a well told story about forgiveness and why you shouldn’t hold on to grudges, especially childish, petty ones. This is the first and only credit listed for Dae-wung Lim. Hopefully there will be more to see from this director, especially since his first feature film was this one. There’s potential for him to belong on the same podium as other great Korean directors like Jee-won Kim and Chan-wook Park.
FULL OF HOPE