Sunday, 9 October 2011

Spider Forest (2004)

Another example of the fine cinema we have had from South Korea, Spider Forest is a film that demands and rewards repeat viewings. Fans of movies such as Mulholland Drive and Memento will get the most pleasure out of this haunting and, at times, beautiful movie which has perhaps just as many interpretations as spiders onscreen.

A man (played by Woo seong-Kam) witnesses the brutal double murder of a couple occupying a cabin within the titular forest but as he pursues the perpetrator he is caught off-guard and knocked out. He wakes later and heads towards the main roads before seeing something that distracts him and leads to him being hit by a car. While he recovers in hospital, friend and detective Choi (Hyeong-seong Jang) tries to tease the story details out of him and piece together exactly what happened. This leads to a tale of the Spider Forest, a place in which spirits live as spiders because they have been forgotten by loved ones, and a mysterious young woman (played by Jung Su) who may hold the key that could unlock the man's damaged psyche.

Written and directed by Il-gon Song, Spider Forest is not a movie for horror fans wanting some easy scares or moments of crazy violence. There are one or two scenes of nastiness contained within the film but it is, for the most part, a mood piece with the atmosphere and ethereal quality of the Spider Forest itself relating to fragile memories and a longing for wrongs to be righted. This is just my take on it, however, and I've already mentioned the numerous interpretations possible (which I can't discuss here as I don't want to spoil anything for viewers).

The movie is a perfect mix of well-chosen camera moves, great acting from all involved (including Kyeong-heon Kang who has a small, but integral, role) and dialogue full of meaning. It seems to be slow and even meandering at times but everything is in there for a reason and solving the puzzle in your own way is immensely satisfying as the end credits roll.

I enjoyed Spider Forest while watching it but I have enjoyed even more thinking about what it offered me long after the movie was over.

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