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Hide and Seek - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2013


Huh Jung

Son Hyeon-joo
Jeon Mi-seon
Moon Jeong-hee
Jeong Joon-won
Kim Soo-an
Kim Ji-yeong

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Hide and Seek

Story: Seong-soo (Son Hyeon-joo) has a wife, Min-ji (Jeon Mi-seon), and two kids, Ho-se (Jeong Joon-won) and Soo-ah (Kim Soo-an), for who he always manages to find some time. That is because Seong-soo has inherited his father's wealth. His father made him his sole heir, although he has only been the adoptive son in the family. Seong-soo's brother didn't get anything because he had to go to prison as a sex offender and brought shame on the family. One day Seong-soo is informed that his brother has disappeared. After that he has more and more nightmares and thus decides to look for his brother. At the run-down apartment complex his brother has lived at he runs into odd behaving mother Joo-hee (Moon Jeong-hee) and her daughter Pyeong-hwa (Kim Ji-yeong). She tells him that she is constantly stalked by Seong-soo's brother and can't live like that any longer. Furthermore, there are rumors that many homeless people live at the apartment complex as they enter apartments no one is living at for a while. Seong-soo feels more and more uncomfortable at the building and eventually his family is terrorized by an unknown individual. Is that person really Seong-soo's brother?

Review: "Hide and Seek" is one of those rare cases where I get the feeling that I have watched a completely different movie than the rest of the critics out there. Being reviewed as an at least solid thriller with a few downsides the movie became dumber by the minute for me and an inner impregnable aversion spread in my guts. The reason for this is that this thriller inevitably will make you feel offended because of the extreme manner in which the viewers' intellect is disregarded here. Sure, the pacing of the film is good, the directing is well achieved, but is this supposed to stand as an excuse for accepting an insanely crackbrained story? The answer to that is a clear NO, although many will find "Hide and Seek" to be decent genre stuff as a thriller.

Hide and Seek - Film Screenshot 11

The idea to question the safety of your home surely isn't a bad one. That's how you realize a giant amount of terror which makes the movie thrilling at every second. Though only as long as you can put up with the incredible amount of plot holes and clichés. You can't keep up counting the many times the killer is chased after in the movie, and when he is finally cornered he himself turns from hunted to hunter and the story's hero becomes the hunted in return. But who is making the hero the victim? No one else but he himself. Countless times he could have overpowered the killer, but even if he actually succeeded in doing so he turns around and lets his enemy recuperate. Why disarm the killer but not kick the weapon out of his reach? Instead a full-grown man panically runs from someone who is lying on the ground?

Hide and Seek - Film Screenshot 12

Facing so much stupidity you feel the urge to smash your head at the next wall. Yes, the killer is a few bricks short of a wall and I don't mind if that gives him more physical strength than your usual mortal has (for whatever reasons), but it surely doesn't make that person superhuman. Why does the father run away like an old granny although his fatherly instincts should make him protect his children? There is so much contrived panic created and far-fetched terror to be found that you can just shake your head in anger. And then there is also a twist. Sure, that's mandatory for a thriller. But even though there may be some who are taken by the resolution you just need to use your brain for a second to think otherwise! The film's revelation turns the beginning and more importantly the finale into a ridiculous mess!

The resolution of the Hong Kong thriller "Murderer" has bothered a lot of people in its ridiculousness, to such an extent that the movie has been torn to pieces by critics, but "Hide and Seek" as even been a surprise hit at the Korean box office? In some universe "Murderer" at least made some sense, but here the invincibility of the killer is outright stupid. At least director Huh Jung manages to convince with nice pictures, and a good pacing you rarely get to see in a thriller. Particularly the run-down apartment complex is nicely captured and there is also a certain feeling of oppression thanks to Seong-soo's mental illness. There is always an inner anxiety to be felt, just the kind of you have when playing hide and seek. But without a decent story a thriller like this just doesn't work out.

Hide and Seek - Film Screenshot 13

The father standing in the focus is without a doubt not simply a good character. The skeletons in his closet are hinted at soon enough. The search for his brother also has strong elements of a horror movie, some dream sequences also remind us of the genre. Seong-soo is mentally unstable and that's interesting, yet it is relativized right away because apparently everyone has got a screw loose. Nevertheless, Son Hyeon-joo ("Punch Lady") provides a neat performance, although this can't be said of the child actors at all times. Told with a high pacing the movie stumbles across the everything but compehensible actions of the characters, completely nutty plot development and clichés by the dozen as if the filmmakers tried to implement as much as possible of them in "Hide and Seek" to invite the viewer to a drinking game. One shot when someone hides in the closet and the next one when he/she hides under the bed. And what about when the killer is allowed to run away without a reason or is accidentally handed a weapon? No, no, we wouldn't want to support binge drinking, would we...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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