Geomeun Jip (Black House) (Terra Shin, 2007)
Geomeun Jip, released in English-speaking countries as Black House, is another of those films from southeast Asia that’s been mismarketed as a horror film on this side of the pond, and has alienated both the horror market and its actual market (this is a mystery film) as a result. Distribution companies, when are you going to learn this lesson? I’ve seen at least a dozen southeast Asian films in the past five years that, had they been marketed correctly, would likely have been hits. While I’m not sure this is one of them—I didn’t seem to like it quite as much as other reviewers who didn’t go into it expecting Yet Another Southeast Asian Horror Film—I think it would have done far better than it actually has.
Plot: an insurance agent, Jun-oh (You Are My Sunshine‘s Jeong-min Hwang),is at a client’s house dealing with an unrelated issue when the client’s son commits suicide—or so it seems. The more Jun-oh investigates, the fishier the “suicide” seems, and he beings to wonder if he’s being set up by the boy’s father (Public Enemy‘s Shin-il Kang); did the father actually kill the boy in order to collect on the insurance?
It’s a pretty standard mystery setup, albeit a well-acted and well-presented one, and you will not regret spending an hour and a half on this one if you’re a mystery fan. But I kept thinking that if they’d considered pushing the envelope a little here and there, this movie really could have taken off—an innovative camera angle here or interesting use of color there or one really memorable minor character or… you get the idea. America, as a society, is so inundated with mystery shows that it felt, at times, like this was a feature-length episode of CSI: Seoul. Which is far more a criticism of American culture than it is of Black House, but it’s something to be considered if you’re an American viewer dialing this one up. ***
Trailer. Subs? WE LAUGH AT SUBS.