SPIDER FOREST (2004)
Director: Song Il-gon
Run time: 1h 43m
A mysterious film on the power of the subconscious that leaves the minds of the characters and audience equally disorientated
To say Spider Forest is a non-linear film that warrants close attention seems to sell short the film’s various scattered developments and branching sub-plots.
It is the equivalent of being spun around on your heels and then asked to complete a jigsaw puzzle without a pattern.
As such, the film has not been for everyone, but there is plenty of interest to be had from its atmospheric tone and fascinating, if slightly perplexing, plot developments.
The initial set-up of the film is straightforward enough though and does a fine job of luring you into the mystery. Kang Min (Kam Woo-sung) wakes in a dark forest and stumbles towards a secluded cabin.
As he walks in, he sees the aftermath of a horrific crime, with a dead man on the floor and whimpers coming from another room. On entering the bedroom he sees his own girlfriend, Su-Young (Kang Kyung-Hun), nearing death and mumbling about spiders.
When the killer dashes from the cabin, Kang Min gives chase through the forest but is soon knocked-out. On waking he staggers to a road tunnel where he spots the killer again, but is runover and sent flying through the air.
When he wakes two weeks later in hospital, his friend and police detective Choi is on hand to comfort him, but also to piece his story together. With Kang Min now the prime suspect, he needs to plumb the depths of his damaged mind to understand what has happened.
The film unfolded in a place between lucidness and unconsciousness, as the severally injured Kang Min tries to separate the facts from the fictions in his mind.
It does not stay on the narrow path of just finding the killer though, heading off in new directions, introducing fresh characters and plot devices until you feel you were the person hit by an SUV in a tunnel.
There is an element of truth in that feeling though, as we find ourselves positioned as Kang Min and returning to the scene of the crime repeatedly, intent on digging up another fragment of memory, meaning or evidence.
It can be difficult to pick even the timeline various events take place within and while no film should be criticised for attempting to add depth to its narrative, but at times it feels there might be a mystery turn too many to keep many audiences engaged.
Despite such a brilliant title for a spine-tingling horror film, this is a feature low on scares but goes bigger on mystery and no-one could doubt that achievement, even if you discover the main mystery is what happened during this film. But for who felt those plot developments land, this is a unique and intriguing film.
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