Directed by Ki-Hyung Park
Released by Tartan Video
Anyone that’s in any kind of long term relationship knows that, when it comes to the subject of children, most women want to have one of their very own. When numerous attempts are made and no pregnancy is yielded, it can put a great strain on the couple.
Such is the case with Mi-Sook (Shim) and her husband Do-il (Kim), who’s a doctor, even. They’ve been trying and trying to get pregnant, but it’s just not working. Finally Do-il explains that he and his father, who also lives with them, have discussed it and think adoption is the best way to keep their family growing. At first, understandably, Mi-Sook is against the idea, but when she comes around they venture out to a local orphanage and one child, or to be more specific one child’s artwork (she’s an art professor) catches her eye.
When Jin-Seong comes home, he immediately makes a bond with the Acacia tree in the couple’s backyard that, as his new grandfather explains, hasn’t bloomed in years. He believes his real birth mother was re-incarnated into this tree, and does all he can to make it healthy again.
Of course, right about the time Jin-Seong gets comfortable with his new family, Mi-Sook gets pregnant. Jealousy from Jin-Seong begins to rear its ugly head; he even goes so far as to slap the baby and tries to suffocate him. It’s evident he’s a little screwed up mentally, but I guess you can’t blame him considering what he’s been through already.
One rainy night after a fight with his mom, Jin-Seong disappears. From then on, things get really bad. Characters begin to drop off in mysterious ways, all related to the tree in the backyard which of course is now beginning to bloom. Mi-Sook and Do-il maintain to all authorities that their adopted son is missing, but the little girl next door who befriended him knows what really happened. And it’s just very, very evil.
From here, I’ll let Ryan’s review of the movie (a quote from which appears on the DVD cover, I should add) take you the rest of the way. Suffice it to say the film is a lot more horrific than it at first appears.
Of course picture and sound aren’t going to have any issues on a DVD for a movie that just came out in 2003, so it all looks and sounds great. Director Park has a fantastic eye for composition on his shots, which gives the film a very uncomfortable quality as it progresses. He also keeps the colors more or less drab throughout so the sharp reds that inevitably begin to show up are that much more effective.
Features include a commentary with the director, one of the producers, and star Jin-Geun Kim. At first it’s a bit dry, with the director and producer interjecting mostly technical information as well as detailing changes made from the original story/script, but eventually things pick up and it actually becomes pretty entertaining for the most part. It’s always a bit of a pain to watch a foreign film with commentary by people speaking another language, but the subtitles are well placed and translated so you shouldn’t have too much issue finding out more about the film.
There’s also a “making of” featurette that for some inexplicable reason is broken up into 5 2-5 minute parts. It’s all done with a hand-held behind the scenes, and for the most part it’s not really all that exciting. Make sure you turn your subtitles on, by the way, I spent the first half of it not understanding why it wasn’t subtitled, then I realized they weren’t burned in. Duh. My issue with behind-the-scenes stuff like this is it doesn’t really tell you much about the film or those making it, just what it was like to shoot the movie. I want to know how it got started, where it came from, how it was cast and later marketed…not what scene 42-c looked like from a different angle. But that’s me.
Rounding out the features is a photo gallery and trailers for some upcoming Tartan releases, including non-horror stuff that you still need to see like Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Old Boy.
All in all the Acacia disc is pretty thin, but well worth the purchase for the film within, which is subtle, familial horror the likes of which we just don’t see all that often, either in the states or from abroad. I’m giving it a higher score because of that alone.
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