Oct 19, 2013

Day 19: Howling (2012)

Can a once-prolific blogger who hasn't written 31 posts all year find it in his soul to review 31 previously unseen horror films in 31 days of October? Let's find out...

Another South Korean horror flick! Yay! I don't know why I've passed this one up so many times when I've seen the title on Netflix Instant. And it stars the always amazing Kang-ho Song (The Host, The Good The Bad The Weird, Thirst)! I really couldn't be more psyched right now. Billed as a hybrid horror movie...something between a werewolf story and a serial killer story. That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!!!

Detective Sang-gil Jo is a cynical loner detective working on a mysterious case of a man who suddenly burned to death in his car. He's assigned a new partner, a young woman just off of her tour as a motorcycle patrol cop. He is none too happy with this situation. I'm sensing a little Lethal Weapon "I'm gettin' too old for this shit" drama coming on. Except the roles are reversed with the older detective being the hot-head.

The coroner on the case finds what appears to be a deep dog bite on the thigh of the burned victim. And traces of a new street drug called Hama in his urine. The detective's new partner doesn't believe that it was suicide, but rather a homicide. This is confirmed by the unit's CSI team. The man was wearing a belt laced with an accelerant with some kind of timer in the buckle. They also find out the he is involved in a prostitution ring, possibly involving minors. And from there, the game is afoot.

There are some shocking scenes of inter-personal violence that probably wouldn't fly with American audiences strewn through the film. The detective beats his teenaged son on the city streets when he finds him playing hooky from school. The new lead detective slaps the young woman detective in the face after it is revealed that she and her partner haven't reported new findings in their case of the burned victim yet. That one was particularly shocking, at least for me. The crap that the male detectives throw her way is truly awful to watch. Just for being an attractive woman in a man's world. It's unsettling to say the least. That's the point, of course. Still...hard to watch.

As for the "werewolf" portion of the movie...well, it wasn't a werewolf. But it was extremely well done and unique in the way that it was handled. The animal was a wolf/dog hybrid, and the attack scenes were truly difficult to watch and extremely realistic, with the animal viciously tearing its victim's throats. I honestly don't know how they were able to film them. Impressive animal actor there.

After sitting through it, I don't think there is any way that you could classify this film as horror, as there were no supernatural elements and the serial killer wasn't a serial killer. More of a revenge mystery type of film. Upsetting at times, heartbreaking at others. It was an extremely well done thriller.

Korean with English subtitles.

Verdant Dude rating: 4 out of 5 pumpkins


Poppy said...

Ooh, yay!

Unknown said...

I'm still reading your reviews, if not commenting.... do carry on sir.

Verdant Earl said...

Poppy - I think you will like this, even if it is disturbing at times.

Chef - Thank you, sir.