Friday, February 10, 2017

Film Review: The Silenced (2015)

The Silenced (Review)
South Korea/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...unique and fascinating."

In 1930s Korea, A young girl is sent to a remote boarding school where she discovers that everything is not what it seems...

The Silenced is a very interesting film. The plot follows Shizuko (Park Bo-young), who is abandoned at the boarding school by her step-mother. The headmistress (Uhm Ji-won) promises to take care of Shizuko, who has an illness. Shizuko, who's real name is Cha Ju-ran, has trouble adapting, but she's helped by Kazue (Park So-dam). All is well until Shizuko begins to notice the 'strange' things happening to her classmates, which include abrupt and mysterious disappearances. The first half resembles a typical period supernatural horror film. It takes a sharp turn towards the second half, though. It went somewhere I did not expect it—and I loved it. It leads to a unique and exciting climax, and a satisfying ending.

The Silenced almost feels like two different films with the same characters—but in a good way. It begins as what feels like an atmospheric ghost story. It's slow-paced and eerie. During the first half, it doesn't really do much with its time in terms of plot. It's focused on its characters, which is important, but it just doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. So, the slow-build is both bad and good. However, it progressively gets better. I won't spoil anything, but the revelation in this film is splendid. It is unique and fascinating. I'm sure it's been done in other films before, but it really felt like a breath of fresh air. It quickly changes pace and trajectory, creating something a bit more exciting than its build-up.

The acting was also good. Park Bo-young is a great actress. I think she did a fantastic job in A Werewolf Boy and she delivers in this film, too. Uhm Ji-won and Park So-dam are also great. The setting, the costume design, and the cinematography were beautiful. The music, although typical, was also effective. The film was written and directed by Lee Hae-young. Lee perfectly crafts the atmosphere for this film. His writing and direction often felt safe and dull during the first half, but he quickly flips the script. Using the element of surprise, Lee delivers a strong climax and ending—as well as a critique of the imperialism that occurred in Korea at that time.

Overall, The Silenced is a very good movie. It's not perfect, but it was a surprising treat. Aside from some pacing and plot issues, the film is effective and entertaining. It's not your typical ghost story, which is something I really appreciate. I recommend it.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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