Friday, July 10, 2015

Korean Director Has Promising Film Debut With "The Piper"

All reviews seem to give thumbs up to this new director Kim Kwang-tae and his movie debut, based on the story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
"The Piper hums a familiar tune, yet this fable of mistrust and deceit remains engrossing and entertaining thanks to a few wicked twists."
When an already spooky story gets a 'spooky makeover' my horror-movie alert senses start to tingle, which is where this film does appear to lead. (Despite having a penchant for the darker side of things and not shying away from, shall we say 'forensic' details, horror really isn't my thing and I haven't even seen all the classics. I don't feel I'm missing out. Thrillers, on the other hand, I'm totally in!) Korean directors typically adore horror and love the extremes of gore and sensationalism. They also don't shy away from being tagged in the horror genre (it doesn't appear to be quite as stigmatized as it does in the West) so a 'supernatural thriller' or 'fantasy thriller' actually sounds promising (at least until there's blood).

Here's the synopsis:
Shortly after the Korean War, a man and his son, Woo-ryong and Young-nam, arrive in an isolated mountain village looking for work in order to make enough money to continue their journey to Seoul. Against the chief's better judgement, Woo-ryong is allowed to do odd jobs and soon realizes the village suffers a major rat infestation. Like a mid-century Pied Piper, he makes a deal with the chief to rid the town of the rats but when the time comes to collect his fee and leave, the chief double crosses the father and son. Vowing a revenge, he lures the rats back, fulfilling an old prophecy that brings horror to the village.

The film has gotten English subtitles ahead of it's Korean release (something which appears to be unusual and speaks well of the film and likely distribution).
The Piper (손님) – or more literally translated as The Guest– has received an English subtitled trailer ahead of its July 9th release date in Korea. 
Loosely based on the classic tale of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, the fantasy-thriller is about a father and his sickly boy who, shortly after the Korean War, find themselves at a strange remote village in the mountains on their way to Seoul. Intending to stay there only for a day before moving on, the duo start to experience surreal events amongst the citizens that leads the father to pick up his mysterious pipe.

An alternate summary from Twitch film :
Kim's version takes place in the aftermath of the Korean War and sees the piper traveling through the mountains with his son. They happen upon a path that has magically opened up, indicated to us by way of a dolly zoom, and soon discover a mysterious village that looks upon these wanderers with suspicious eyes. They stick around for long enough to be accepted by the villagers but also to sense that something isn't quite right. Only then does the well-known rat element of the story come into play.
You can read the whole review from Twitch  HERE, which might give you a clearer idea of what to expect.

Here's the trailer. It has English subtitles and is NOT graphic (another plus). The most you see are a weird egg and some stained shirts. If you're up for a different interpretation, take a look:
Although at first I thought otherwise, a repeat viewing makes me think the end figure might be the Piper's own child shuffling along there, I'm not sure...

The trailer suggests a beautifully made film, with a few different twists on the usual tale. While I won't be going to any of the upcoming brief and limited screenings happening for it's release in LA later this month, (beginning July 17th with the official US release being July 24th) I will keep an eye out for it streaming. I'd like to see what the director has done that's caught critic's positive attention (and then I can also fast-forward through any gratuitous unpleasantness).