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Deranged - Movie Poster
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South Korea 2012

Thriller, Drama, Horror

Park Jeong-woo

Kim Myeong-min
Moon Jeong-hee
Kim Dong-wan
Lee Honey
Eom Ji-seong
Yeom Hyeon-seo
Lee Hyeong-cheol
Jeon Gook-hwan

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Story: Jae-hyeok (Kim Myeong-min) works for a pharmaceutical company, but these days he is working there as a mere salesman since he lost all his money after a bad stock market tip of his brother Jae-pil (Kim Dong-wan) and now he somehow tries to provide for his family.
Jae-pil is a policeman and one day is called to a scene where a floater is found that seems to be completely dehydrated. While the coroners are still puzzling about this more and more bodies turn up. Throughout the whole country bodies turn up in rivers and lakes by the dozen. Soon it is clear that this has to be an epidemic which has the distinct symptom of thirst that can't be quenched. When Jae-hyeok's wife Kyeong-soon (Moon Jeong-hee) and their two children show the same symptoms Jae-hyeok tries to find a cure on his own. The government declares national emergency and puts all sick people under quarantine. Meanwhile, Jae-pil's investigation more and more point towards a conspiracy behind the epidemic.

Review: What at first seemed to be a petty zombie flick now proves to be a well done epidemic movie which depicts the personal drama of a family as well as that of a society in chaos and a government in a tight spot. Furthermore, there is a conspiracy that adds to the movie's thrills. In the end, "Deranged" actually manages to be captivating at any time and sometimes even appalingly realistic. However, on the other hand there are some scenes, that seem less believable and not least there are also some plot holes in the screenplay. If they had been avoided it would have been a lot easier to recommend this movie because the way it is there are some unnecessary problems that have an especially serious impact on the ending.

Some of you (unfortunately) might remember M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening". While the suicides in that movie, people jumping off buildings like lemmings, looked unintentionally funny, the bodies that float in the water at first by the dozen and later on by even greater numbers can in fact be a disturbing picture to watch, as there is, that much can be said, a mutated parasite which normally infests insects and causes its host to go into the water where the parasite breeds. Accordingly, there are crowds of people running into the water like mindless zombies, which are not easily kept from running into their own demise. Those pictures can in fact look pretty creepy if they hadn't been made use of repeatedly and one time too many at some point, thus losing most of its horror.

Director Park Jeong-woo, who also shot the very nice "Big Bang", made a good decision to first introduce the family of Jae-hyeok because later on he can bring in a good harvest thanks to this and win over the viewer on an emotional level. While Jae-hyeok desperately is looking for a cure he constantly has to cope with setbacks. Unfortunately, at some point it starts to become almost unintentionally funny how often his chance of getting his hands on a cure are shattered at the last minute. Meanwhile, Moon Jeong-hee ("Dance with the Wind") is responsible for the drama part of the movie and manages it quite well. Her relationship to her husband stands as the movie's core which on several occasions keeps everything pieced together when the film is on the verge of falling apart because of the many levels it is working on.

After all there is also a conspiracy in "Deranged" that needs to be uncovered. However, you can't really call it a sophisticated one because even after the first few hints the viewer can guess what the overall picture is made up of while the investigators and the government are still in the dark about it. That is everything but credible and moreover that way the supposed "twists" towards the end can just arouse the urge to yawn, nothing more. It gets even worse when Jae-hyeok, who is actually working for a pharmaceutical company, but isn't capable of giving a helping hand in developing a cure whatsoever, suddenly comes up with an idea via a epiphany that apparently no high-ranking expert could get together, even though it is a strikingly easy solution!

"Deranged" is blockbuster material that clearly will even appeal to western audience that isn't really interested in Korean movies. The thrilling staging is also carried by the charismatic Kim Myeong-min ("Man of Vendetta", "Beethoven Virus"). Sadly, there are still some unnecessarily overly emotional moments towards the end and some pretty stupid behavior of some of the characters, which lowers the positive overall impression to some extent. Especially the ending struggles with some problems. Yet, the different story threads are the strength of "Deranged" and so this is an epidemic movie, a drama, at some points a horror flick and at the same time a socia-critical piece of work, that occasionaly trips badly, but in the end proves to be a nice blockbuster.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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