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R-Point (2004)

Starring Woo-seong Kam, Byung-ho Son, Tae-kyung Oh

Directed by Su-chang Kong


What is it with War based horror films anyway? Apart from Bob Clarke’s Deathdream, which didn’t even take place “in the shit”, and maybe Dog Soldiers, I really can’t think of a war/horror movie that I’d cross the street to watch a second time. Perhaps it’s just that the threat of getting your limbs blown off in a bug infested jungle by other humans is scary enough; no ghosts required.

R-Point does a good job of grabbing the audience at the beginning, and really only slips up near the end. The film takes place during Vietnam, and follows a rag-tag bunch of Korean soldiers who are given the opportunity to go home if they accept one last assignment. It seems that a creepy radio transmission has been received, indicating that a group of their comrades, who disappeared six months earlier, may in fact still be alive. Quicker than you can say Saving Private Ryu, our boys are off searching for the missing soldiers in the dreaded R-Point territory of Vietnam.

The soldiers, led by a psychotic Sergeant, and quiet, capable Lieutenant (yawn), arrive at R-Point expecting a cake walk, but end up finding that the area they’re searching is built upon a burial ground. It’s a promising idea, and it plays out well, as the tension is slowly ratcheted up over R-Point’s running time. Not unexpectedly the soldiers begin to realize that the Vietcong are not the only threat they’re facing.

The problem with R-Point is that the soldiers and the audience are both in the dark for nearly the whole film. We’re treated to a pretty creepy twist halfway through the movie, but unfortunately, this device is repeated a few times, leeching its effectiveness. The cinematography and mood indicate that a hidden threat exists, but the threat doesn’t manifest itself until the last fifteen minutes of the film. Up until the finale, the ever rising body count comes courtesy of accidents and friendly fire, which makes one wonder what R-Point’s spooks are waiting for.

Even once the danger is revealed, it ends up being a let down, since very few answers are provided. The Deadite possession circle jerk at the end feels like it was constructed in order to kill off the disappointingly large number of still living characters. Ultimately, R-Point fails the audience by never delivering on the dread that it so meticulously creates.

2 ½ out of 5

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Jon Condit

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