Director: Chul-Soo Jang
Stars: Yeong-hie Seo, Seong-won Jie, Min-ho Hwang
Hits you like a bucket full of bean paste!
Korea is such a stand-out country for delivering consistently sensational horror films, often in the revenge department. Oldboy is nothing short of a masterpiece and I Saw the Devil is one favourite films ever. The Koreans aren’t afraid to push the barrier and also never fail to deliver a few large helpings of emotional wallops. They put a lot of effort into writing their characters, in order for the audience to invest in the film. Bedevilled is no different.
Bedevilled is yet another example of Korean superiority. Thank goodness the loopy Kim Jong-Un has left South Korea alone because otherwise we wouldn’t be getting these incredible pieces of art (or Psy!) which are important to our society. Bedevilled is a slow burner, but it’s anything but boring. It takes it time in setting up its two female characters so the audience can care about them (even if one of them is a little more than unlikable) and thus not care about the slow pace of the film. However, I would say that if you’re only into some slashing and dashings with thrills and spills, then stay clear, because Bedevilled delivers something much more than that.
I think that Bedevilled is more complex than just a ‘revenge movie’ and I think too many people dismiss it as just that. To me Bedevilled was about a lonely woman who had been subjected to years of abuse from her husband and lack of support from the few islanders, yet always pushed it aside and treated it as nothing, until she cracks. I found Bedevilled very psychological and it brilliantly portrays the tragic mental breakdown of an isolated woman who just can’t take any more abuse.
The build up in Bedevilled is nothing short of brilliant. I loved the way it slowly switched main characters about a quarter of a way through. We initially follow a hard-nosed woman working in mainland Seoul who then goes over to a small island where her grandfather used to live to see her friend. Initially we don’t really think much of her friend, because we’ve been following Hae-Wan who is also very self-centred. However, the film slowly allows Kim Bok-Nam (the friend) to surface and we begin to feel an unbelievable amount of sympathy for her as she’s so badly treated by her husband.
As I said before the build up is slow but extremely effective. I didn’t find it boring in the slightest because it allowed the characters to develop, which in turn made the film more and more gripping as it went along. Eventually Bedevilled does explode after some truly shocking and devastating moments, but should we really be rooting for Kim Bok-Nam all the way? Bedevilled ends up being incredibly thought-provoking as well as exciting and visceral. The final moments pack quite an emotional punch and will have you glued to the screen. I especially liked the match cut which compared Hae-Wan to the island, suggesting a deep inner conflict with herself.
Bedevilled is yet another masterful Korean film which manages to tick all the boxes. The actresses also end up being quite exceptional in their respective roles. The film also looks gorgeous in blu-ray, I’d highly recommend it. The cinematography is often breath-taking which adds an usual quality later on as the beautiful back-drop is also used for the scenery of such vile and hideous acts. Bedevilled is well worth your time and money. It reminds you just how amazing foreign films are.