METAMORPHOSIS *** South Korea 2019 Dir: Hong-seon Kim. 113 mins
This cluttered but sometimes creepy, well acted South Korean horror movie has a visceral opening – albeit on very familiar ground – as a handsome young priest fails to save a possessed young woman, complete with old-school throat-inflating bladder FX. Before falling to her death she vows endless torment for him and his family.
Subsequently, the priest’s brother and his family buy a house at an auction for a new start. Mum is sick of “Gods, churches and everything”, forbidding their teenage daughter from seeing her uncle. A dead cat strung up outside the window doesn’t bode well – neither does the weird neighbour whose home is littered with flayed pets and dead chickens like a loopy sitcom version of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. Meanwhile, a FALLEN-style body hopping demon hijacks the family, transforming mild-mannered Dad into an imposing creep who shows up in his daughter’s bedroom at night to leer at her body and prompting Mum to randomly wig out at the kids during breakfast. The malevolent force cannily plays on existing familiar tensions.
The plot creaks a bit: inevitably, the family has to call on their estranged, reluctant man in the field and he in turn has to call on his elder, more experienced comrade for further help. The jolts are genre-standard – girls in showers and bathroom mirror scares – and it’s bogged down a little by diversions with secondary characters that bring the running time close to the two hour mark. Nonetheless, the family are likeable, it’s slickly directed for maximum commercial potential and there are some eerie frissons along the way.
Review by Steven West