Sunday, January 25, 2015

Horror Film Review

The Guard Post (2008):  South Korean horror flick that I must admit is very difficult to review, not because it's convoluted (which it is) but because the person in charge of subtitles was either drunk, stoned or the laziest human ever to walk the earth.  Half the dialogue did not get translated (I know a little Korean), so half the story went over my head.  I got the gist, mostly, and it's that gist I'll attempt to explain.  I must forgo the use of the actors' names because, again, the subtitles were buggered and the filmmakers didn't run credits with matching photos.

I lied.  I do know one actor's name, and thankfully he's the main character.  Onward...

 Trouble at a South Korean military outpost near the North Korean border forces the brass to send investigator Sergeant Major Noh Seong-Gyu (Ho-jin Chun).  It seems a well-liked and mild-mannered young soldier took an axe and hacked his buddies to pieces.  I'm not exaggerating when I say the room was an abattoir.  Gross.  Anyway, Noh notices everyone at the base is acting squirrelly, especially the lieutenant and doctor.  Pages of logs have been torn out and the surviving soldiers are nervous.  So what the hell happened?  A picture is painted for us via a number of flashbacks; however, not all flashbacks are necessarily real.  (I later learned this was pretty clever of them.  At the time, with incomplete subtitles, I was just confused and annoyed.)  We learn a squad that went on patrol in the woods brought back some type of contagion.  This bug causes nasty rashes and, oh, yeah...homicidal behavior.  Axe Boy may not be the bad guy after all.  Indeed, through the flashbacks I really liked the guy.  Unfortunately, as it is with any character I become attached to, he doesn't make it.  In the end, Noh decides the contagion must not be allowed to escape the base and so rigs the joint with explosives.  It's a race against time because reinforcements are on the way and the infected want out.  The climax is really quite exciting.

The Skinny

Acting:  Chun is good as the broody and introspective Noh.  There is some ham with the other actors but the performances are solid for the most part.
Story:  The basic plot isn't new (think The Crazies), but using the Korean DMZ is inspired.  Adds an extra layer of tension.
Direction:  Could have been tighter.  The film's too long at 121 minutes.  Succeeded, though, in conveying a sense of claustrophobia.
Production Values:  The million dollar budget was used well.  Honestly, I don't know how they made it look so good with so little money.
Gore/FX:  Oh, there's plenty of blood and guts to satisfy the most discerning horror nerd.  As they say in Korean, 대박 (pronounced daebak).
Scares:  There are a couple of jumpy bits and a lot of squirm-in-you-seat bits.
Ending:  Boom.
Verdict:  Should you see The Guard Post?  Despite the subtitle debacle, the film does have a lot to offer.  It's interesting, gory, and includes a hint of zombie action.  What else do you need?

Rating:  3 out of 5

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