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Sorum (DVD)

Starring Jin-Yong Jan, Myeong-min Kim, Ju-bong Gi

Directed by John-chan Yun


First off, don’t let that cover fool you like it did me. Granted, it’s damn effective in making you want to pick the movie up and give it a go, but it’s not indicative of what the film is about at all

Okay, so the movie deals with a young taxi driver, Sun-yeong, looking to make a fresh start. He moves into a rather nasty looking apartment complex, into room 504, which is equally nasty. He learns that recently a young girl’s boyfriend died in a fire in the very room he’s renting, and 30 years before that another, more vicious murder occurred of a woman who had recently given birth at the hands of her husband.

A struggling novelist who lives next door to Sun-yeong theorizes that, because of two murders occurring in the same room, the ghost of the murdered woman must be haunting the place. Indeed, some evil things do go on in the building, as the battered wife down the hall would attest to. When she decides to take matters into her own hands and get rid of her abusive husband, subdued romance with Sun-yeong begins, but do either of them have good intentions?

Both of them have some serious issues, and pretty soon it’s clear that Sun-yeong didn’t leave his last residence under normal circumstances as the police want to ask him a lot of questions about his ex. Dark secrets are dredged up as more and more layers are added on to the plot, and eventually the only way it can all end is badly. And then, when you think it’s ended badly enough, it gets worse.

Initially I found Sorum to be boring, I’ll be honest. It’s slow, full of long scenes of characters starring at each other for no discernable reason without any dialogue, and it really takes a while for the story to get moving. Once the pieces begin to fall into place, however, and the truth about the main characters and their motives becomes more and more obvious, things get much more interesting. Sorum is definitely a slow burn, but it’s worth holding out to witness the slow descent into madness seemingly everyone involved takes, and there are some very powerful performances within.

The picture and sound are exquisite, and the 5.1 surround is especially effective in the quieter moment as Ju-Bong possesses a great ear for ambient noise; be it music, far-off conversations, or just the sounds of everyday life, they’re placed just so to give whatever scene you’re witnessing a slightly off feel, almost of otherworldliness. This contributes to subtly yet steadily allowing you to get more and more into the characters’ heads, making the conclusion that much more shocking.

Features on the DVD include some production stills, trailers and TV spots, and the first instance I’ve seen of a Tartan screw up, though it may have just been the disc I had. You see, the making-of featurette, arguably the meat of the extras features, was absent of subtitles. This bugged me more than it usually would because it had the appearance of being one of those making-ofs I always wish they’d put on a DVD, complete interviews with the cast and crew, line readings, and footage of scenes being shot. Unfortunately, since it’s all in Korean, it made not a bit of sense to me. I’ve not read about this issue with the release anywhere else, so for now I’ll chalk it up to a defect on my copy and leave it at that.

Sorum is proof of Tartan’s ongoing determination to deliver the best Asian horror to the U.S. shores, and not just the obvious lineup. The film’s subtle horror is far more effective for me than if all the madness was front and center, and the simple fact that I knew nothing else about it going in only enhanced my enjoyment. Recommended!


3 1/2 out of 5

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Johnny Butane