South Korea is the absolute domain for darkly detailed storytelling and methodical characters. Directors like Park Chan-Wook and films like I Saw the Devil and Oldboy are the reason I think that. There’s always a definite lack of polish, a certain rough around the edges way with the cinematography, but that only works to propel it with a brooding aesthetic. I’ve been wanting to explore more from South Korea. A lot of what I am interested with them is horror or particularly dark subject-matter. That’s where I know South Korea to shine, and that’s why I was interested in them in the first place. I want to try and pursue everything I can though, but Missing offered some of the mindless sort-of horror I was looking for at the time. A crazy psychopathic character and characters trying to survive his wrath. A story as old as time itself and one that will never get old or tired. At least not for me. And at least not for a lot of other horror fans. I will say that this film didn’t look like it’d be anything too special. Me watching this film was a spur-of-the-moment, impulse watch on Netflix. I didn’t expect anything that would surprise me or hold my attention for very long, but I wanted something to watch and it looked worthwhile enough. The fact that it was a South Korean film was an added bonus. Always love to have diversity here on Readers Digested.
Missing is a 2009 South Korean film directed by Sung Hong-Kim. The film stars Ja-Hyeon Chu, Min-hee Ha, Gi-ho Heo, and Seong-kun Mun and is based on a real-life serial-killer. In the film, the main-character is looking for her missing sister, who has been kidnapped by the vile and demented antagonist. In other-words, it’s a film about a woman who is tortured in a den, and the sister that is trying to find the killer before it’s too late. The acting isn’t anything that will likely have anyone jumping up for joy but it’s passable. Both sisters are likable, if a little over-the-top at times, but the villain, Seong-kun Mun is the only definitive character throughout it, and he isn’t really terrific. He comes off as an enjoyable crazy, but it’s nothing we haven’t already seen before in a lot of other films, and there is nothing that’s really too noteworthy about his performance. Maybe one or two moments that standout as eccentric, but it was mostly just neither here nor there.
If you look at the film and you look at the premise, I can already see your wheels turning and assuming what it is. The film looks like your everyday torture-flick with violence substituting for character development and story-structure. That’s exactly what it is too, or what it’s meant to be. The film’s actually restrained for the most part, and most of the violence is obscured or off-camera, which is more of a courtesy than what’s given for most horror films.
I want to find something to really tackle and talk about, but the fact of the matter is that there isn’t really anything too noteworthy about Missing. The characters have some questionable dialogue, and in-fact, some of it’s a little too hokey by most standards, and the story itself looks like it was copy-and-pasted from about a million-and-one different horror films. I can’t find myself caring about any of it, and while it’s customary for a lot of horror films to recycle elements from other films, it’s expected that they’d at least have moments of their own to standout and make them worth the tape they were filmed on. The setting and cinematography are fine for what they are, but I can’t really find myself strongly praising them. At times, I even found it to be a little off-putting, like it didn’t really work or enhance the film very much, but at other times, it seems like they have a decent handle on it.
I never connected with the characters on any level, and so I could never root for them. That’s a big problem with a lot of horror. In Funny Games, they ask the viewer who they are rooting for, and the fact is, the villain is usually the one that makes people buy a ticket. That’s fine mostly, but this is the sort-of film where you should be rooting for the character’s survival, or for them to overcome the obstacles put in-front of them. I don’t care though. The sister could die. The other sister could die. A man across the street could die, and I wouldn’t flinch. They made efforts at making them feel human, but it wasn’t very much and it wasn’t effective either.
I can’t find any strong feelings about the film at all. And so, I’ll just summarize my thoughts and put us both out of our misery for this review: Missing is a generic horror film on all levels. The lead-females are seemingly capable actors with not a whole lot to work with. The antagonist does his role capably but never exceeds expectations. The characters are underdeveloped. The brutality is restrained but uninspired and doesn’t mean anything. The cinematography and setting is neither here nor there and rarely shows much sign of anything above adequacy.
It’s just a simple and average horror film. What you see on the cover is basically all you can expect in the film.