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Original Title:
Jinseungeui Kkeut

South Korea 2010

Mystery, Horror

Jo Sung-hee

Lee Min-ji
Park Hae-il
Yoo Seung-mok
Park Se-jong
Kim Yeong-ho
Lee Min-woong

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End of Animal

Story: Pregnant student Soon-yeong (Lee Min-ji) sits in a cab and finally is driving home again. Then the taxi driver is picking up another customer (Park Hae-il) on the road. The man knows an incredible lot about the taxi driver as well as Soon-yeong. Moreover, he tells them that something is about to happen in a few minutes and that the girl should stay in the car no matter what. In fact it suddenly becomes really bright and when Soon-yeong comes to again she is alone in the taxi. The driver is on his way to a near roadhouse to get help as the car doesn't start and every single electronical device isn't working anymore either. Soon-yeong walks through the desolate area and runs into some other individuals who share a similiar fate. But everyone is behaving somewhat odd. The girl just wants to get to the roadhouse, but the others seem to make that impossible for her. The mysterious other man of the taxi contacts Soon-yeong via a walkie talkie in order to give her some advice every now and then, but he is actually the one the girl trusts the least.

Review: If you are looking for an unusual independent horror flick "End of Animal" is just your cup of tea. The film is a mix of a road movie and "Rosemary's Baby", is nurtured by a dense atmosphere, but also demands a certain amount of patience from the viewer. Furthermore, it struggles with some problems that might be frustrating for some viewers. The ending is rather open but what's worse is that we only get to know very little of the characters. Maybe that wouldn't be that much of a problem if the movie wouldn't leave us in need for some answers in other respects as well. However, those who are willing to enter the world of "End of Animal" will especially be fascinated by the uncertainty and mysteriousness running through this psychological thriller.

The biggest strength of the film is the introduction. We are thrown into the events right away and along with the young girl we puzzle over what the heck is going on exactly. The shaky handcamera style and the grey colors create a dreariness and loneliness that makes the world look lifeless. But there are also other individuals that are wandering this postapocalyptic world without any destination. They might not know what's going on either, but obviously they all have something to hide, too. At the beginning this is really thrilling. However, as things evolve we start to ask ourselves if everybody in this world is in fact crazy. Nearly nothing of what the characters do is comprehensible, behind everything there seems to be a hidden and gruesome agenda.

The mysteriousness of the individual characters is even going so far that they eventually lose any credibility. At least it drives the thrill factor up as the pregnant girl has to survive in a world in which everyone wishes her ill. And apart from that there is also that strange howling that apparently comes from a very big animal. The atmosphere the movie creates, thanks to the vulnerability of the protagonist and a world not very much different from the Twilight Zone, is impressive. Adding to that is some bad lighting and long shots without any cuts. The movie starts to create its very own dynamic, but during the last third at the latest it has to struggle with a slower pacing that is the result of the aimlessness of the screenplay.

Not only Soon-yeong runs around in circles but the scriptwriter faces a dead end a few times as well. The biggest problem is that the pregnant girl at first behaves as stupid as everyone else but eventually even wins in this discipline! She constantly disregards every warning of the mysterious man and always does exactly the opposite of what he tells her. If there is anything outright stupid you can do in a certain situation Soon-yeong will do it. At some point this has become so frustrating for the viewer that you wouldn't even mind if she didn' survive her journey at the end - regardless of her being pregnant. In the later course of the movie we might get some answers why she behaves like that but they still aren't really convincing.

The mysterious passanger in the taxi apparently can't intervene with the events directly and moreover he knows about the background of all individuals in full detail. Those who put the pieces together right can't overlook the strong Christian note of this doomsday scenario. Is the unknown man an angel or even the devil? Thanks to the vagueness of the screenplay everyone is allowed to interpret as he wishes. Interestingly enough the open ending isn't as frustrating as might be expected at all, especially since the level of thrill goes up a lot towards the finale. If you give "End of Animal" a chance and stay with it from the beginning to the end you will be rewarded with an unusual horror movie that might have to struggle with some weaknesses but especially for a independent picture knows how to score with a fantastic atmosphere. Because of the at times really stupid behavior of the characters I can't give a better rating, though.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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