Fantasia Film Festival Movie Review: HOUSE OF THE DISAPPEARED

HOUSE OF THE DISAPPEARED is the latest film from director Dae-wung Lim and is a slow burn supernatural story intertwined with revelations and surprises that bring the main arc of the story full circle. The film stars Yunjin Kilm ("Lost"), Do-bin Baek (The Great Queen Seondeok), and Taecyeon (Assembly). 

The story surrounding HOUSE OF THE DISAPPEARED centers on Kang Mi-Hee (Kilm), a housewife who is convicted of murdering her husband and quite possibly her son, who has gone missing. After being sentenced to prison for 25 years, she is released and sentenced to her home where the heinous acts occurred. While there, the mystery surrounding the house, and it's former inhabitants, comes to life and we learn that not everything is as it seems. 

Though this wasn't one of my favorite films at the Fantasia Film Festival, there were aspects of it that I really did enjoy. The acting, for one, was superb and I would be remissed if I didn't remark on the talent possessed by Yunjin Kilm. The film also weaves in and out of the past, present, and future with Kilm being the focal point of each time period. She possessed a quiet strength and determination, particularly when it came to the point of finding out who she truly is and what she was capable of doing to protect her sons. 

I really enjoyed how the film showed the timeline leading up to Kilm's arrest. However, as fascinating as this story was, I felt that the pacing was a bit too slow, resulting in my attention beginning to wane early on. Even so, there's a lot of information that is thrown at the viewer and it's a lot to keep up with in this 90 minute film - especially as secrets start to bubble to the surface and tragedy strikes. Fitting nicely towards the end of the film is a twist that I didn't see coming until just before the reveal was shown. I think without this, the film wouldn't have been as effective nor would it have tugged on the hearts of viewers in quite the same fashion. 

In terms of the film being scary, I wouldn't categorize HOUSE OF THE DISAPPEARED as being horrifying or terrifying. There is a creeping sense of dread that is palpable throughout the duration but it never reached that fever pitch that I wish it did. The film had the ability to be quite chilling but for whatever the reason, the director chose to not go down that route. I will admit though that there was one scene in particular that made me jump a little, so I can't be to negative in terms of the lack of scares. 

Overall, HOUSE OF THE DISAPPEARED had promise but ultimately didn't deliver for me. The story is fascinating and the twist really added an additional layer to the already mysterious storyline, but the slow pacing the multiple stories from different characters became a bit too jumbled for me. With that said, I would still recommend this film to people who love unconventional ghost stories, mysteries or thrillers. 

Devastatingly Yours,
Shannon M. 

HOUSE OF THE DISAPPEARED had it's North American Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival on July 18. There will be an encore showing on July 20th at 3:30pm at the Salle J.A. De Sève