BLUEBEARD is the latest film from director Soo-youn Lee (Uninvited) and is a hell of a mind trip that keeps you guessing until the very last frame. The film stars Jin-woong Jo (The Handmaiden), Goo Shin (2009: Lost Memories), Dae-Myung Kim (Misaeng) and Chung-ah Lee (The Good the Bad the Weird).
The film centers on Seung-hoon (Jin-woong Jo), a "down on his luck" doctor who hears what he believes to be a murder confession from a sedated patient, who also happens to be his landlord, during a medical checkup. He soon learns about a woman who has gone missing, prompting Seung-hoon to suspect that his landlord and landlord's son, who conveniently runs a butcher shop, may be the killers. As more people begin to disappear, Seung-hoon must do whatever it takes to stop the killers before his time, and quite possibly his life, is up.
I'll be honest, I initially wasn't expecting much so imagine my surprise when this film took a hard left turn in a direction I wasn't prepared for. About halfway through, I was convinced I knew how everything would unfold, but by the third act, everything changed. What I assumed was just a regular run-of-the-mill thriller became so much more than that, resulting in my immediate attention. I applaud Soo-youn Lee for crafting a story that was so unexpected and thought provoking while also maintaining an arc that kept the audience at bay until the curtain was finally lifted.
I think what threw me off the most was the acting. Now mind you, I don't mean that in a negative way, as all those in the film did a fantastic job. In a way, I guess they gave me a false sense of security which derailed me from thinking of anything other than what their character was presenting. Jin-woong Jo, who plays the main role of Seung-hoon, is a character that you want to see succeed. He's going through a divorce and his medical practice has filed for bankruptcy and all the viewer wants to see is him catch a break. I don't want to give anything away, but Jin-woong Jo does a tremendous job of convincing the viewer that we should feel bad for him, especially when the murders begin.
In terms of violence and gore, it could have been way worse than it was. I appreciated that the director chose not to showcase gratuitous gore for the sake of shock value. Instead, the violence correlated to what was happening as well as the story at large. For those who love gore, you'll be happy to know that there are severed limbs, and for those who do not love that sort of thing, you don't have to worry about it being displayed constantly on your screen. I loved that this film relied more on the mystery/intrigue aspect than complete and total bloodshed.
Speaking of mystery and intrigue, this film nails that sub-genre right on it's head. I wouldn't categorize the film as being scary, though there are a few moments that are unsettling. It's more psychological with a focus on dread and despair as opposed to jump scares. While you might not be on the edge of your seat, waiting for the killer to jump out from behind a door, you will find yourself increasingly sucked into all the twists and turns. In the end, the audience is left questioning what was actually real as opposed to what we were led to believe as real.
Overall, BLUEBEARD was one of the few films that truly surprised me. The acting is solid and believable with a storyline that keeps you on your toes. My only critique is that I felt as though 2/3 of the film was a bit slow in regards to the story unfolding. Other than that, I think BLUEBEARD is one of the most unique and intriguing films to come out this year. For those who love a good twist and enjoy murder mysteries, make sure to check out BLUEBEARD.
BLUEBEARD is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD from Well GO USA