Friday, December 1, 2017

Film Review: Bluebeard (2017)

Bluebeard (Review)
South Korea/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"If you're a fan of slow-burn mysteries with disturbing twists, this is for you."

A doctor suspects a patient and his patient's son are responsible an unsolved murder.

Bluebeard follows Dr. Byun Seung-hoon (Cho Jin-woong), who relocates to a new town to work at a clinic that specializes in gynecology. Since he's divorced, Seung-hoon lives by himself in an apartment above a butcher shop. Sung-geun (Kim Dae-myung) runs the shop with his wife and father—and the family also serves as the landlords. When Sung-geun's father heads to Seung-hoon's clinic for a check-up, he appears to be confessing to a violent murder while he's sedated. Seung-hoon becomes convinced that the butcher and his father are responsible for the unsolved serial murders in the area, but he also struggles with his own sanity due to his horrific visions. It leads to a dark and twisted ending, although somewhat predictable.

Bluebeard is not your traditional South Korean thriller. It's violent, but it's not excessive or shocking like I Saw The Devil. It's tense and atmospheric, but it's not a fast-paced, heart-pounding thriller like The Chaser. No, Bluebeard is a slow-burn, tense, and disturbing thriller with a surreal presentation. It's a smart whodunit with plenty of character and plot. Although it has some predictable aspects, there are plenty of twists you might not see coming. The last thirty or so minutes of the film are bit heavy-handed, though. It takes its time to really spell everything out for you—and it does it without any subtlety. You don't actually leave with any questions and, since the ending isn't exactly jaw-dropping, it doesn't leave you with much to talk about. However, the surreal presentation will definitely get you talking. By surreal, I'm referring to Seung-hoon's nightmares/visions, which cause him to question himself and also cause the audience to question everything.

Cho Jin-woong performed well as the leading man. From what I've seen in Korean cinema, Cho tends to play side characters. After this standout performance—not overacted, not underdone—I'd like to see more leading roles from him. Kim Dae-myung and Shin Goo were also great. The film was shot very well. I liked the cinematography, the camerawork, and the editing. The music was often subtle, but it helped build the atmosphere. The film was written and directed by Lee Soo-yeon. Lee crafts an effective whodunit during the first half of the film and he unravels his mystery without a problem. The film kept me engaged throughout its runtime, although it does have some very slow moments and some other issues.

Overall, Bluebeard is a very effective horror-thriller film. If you're a fan of slow-burn mysteries with disturbing twists, this is for you. However, if you're expecting a traditional Korean thriller, this is a bit different. Regardless, I think it's an enjoyable movie if you go in with the right mindset.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and gore, some nudity.

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