Haunters (2010)

131.

★★

Directed by: Min-suk Kim
Written by: Min-suk Kim
Starring: Dong-won Kang, Soo go, Duek-mun Choi and Jeong Eun-Chae

Thank god there are Korean films of a higher caliber compared to Kim Min-suk’sthriller, Haunters. If this set the standard of Korean action-thrillers, Korea would not stand a chance in international waters. Haunters may have done well in domestic box office figures, but this may be a sign that the Korean film industry is going through a bit of a slump. Relying too heavily on its big name stars and super power theatrics to be anything uniquely impressive, Haunters lacks a narrative that holds complex, interesting characters or thought-provoking themes.

Crazy eyes.

For Gyoo-nam (Soo), getting a job at a pawn shop is one of the proudest moments in life. With two immigrant friends from his previous job as a laborer, Gyoo-nam leads a simple life with simple pleasures. Cho-in (Dong), on the other hand, lives a very solitary life that is haunted by his dark childhood and powerful psychic abilities. Using his ability to control people’s minds with his eyes, Cho-in robs his victims and occasionally enjoys making people kill themselves. When Cho-in walks into Gyoo-nam’s pawn shop, however, and realizes that his psychic powers have no effect on Gyoo-nam, a rivalry begins between the two men that tests the limits of their powers.

Despite the accumulating body count, swerving car chases, and intense staring competitions, Haunters doesn’t deliver stakes that feel very high. This may be due to the fact that both Gyoo-nam and Cho-in don’t have strong motivations. Their actions and the resulting consequences are disproportionate to their simple desire to get rid of each other – whether that be revenge or survival. In any case, many of the important details surrounding the characters are lost in spectacle and ineffective chase sequences. But even when it comes to stylistic choices, Haunters often looks and feels like a tacky  B-grade Japanese graphic novel-turned film that hasn’t seen much international attention. The premise may have held some promise for a big Korean action flick, but when it comes to its execution, Haunters fails to meet the quality of recent Korean thrillers that have pleased both domestic and international viewers.

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