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Killer Toon - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Deo Web-toon: Ye-go Sal-in

South Korea 2013


Kim Yong-gyoon

Lee Si-yeong
Eom Gi-joon
Hyeon Woo
Moon Ga-yeong
Kwon Hae-hyo
Kim Do-young
Oh Kwang-rok
Kim So-yeon

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Killer Toon

Story: An editor is found dead. For investigating police detective Lee Gi-cheol (Eom Gi-joon) and his partner Yeong-soo (Hyeon Woo) the case seems to be clear at first: suicide. But a webtoon on the editor's computer mirrors the suicide in every detail. Moreover, the injuries the victim is supposed to have inflicted on herself are very unusual and painful. Gi-cheol soon finds out that the webtoon is from artist Kang Ji-yoon (Lee Si-yeong) who proves to be hard to contact, though. When it turns out that the artist doesn't have an alibi for the time of murder and also is found at the scene of a second alleged suicide she has to answer the detectives' questions. Her explanation that the murders were committed by ghosts isn't believabele at all, even less so since Ji-yoon seems to be hiding something. After some investigation Gi-cheol manages to trace all the connections back to the girl Seo-hyeon (Moon Ga-yeong) who once shared a room with Ji-yoon. However, no one seems to know where Seo-hyeon can be found now...

Review: Yes, the extremely smart English title of this horror flick makes you expect a horror comedy or at least a B horror movie that doesn't take itself too serious. But neither one is the case. In fact, "Killer Toon" is a true horror flick with such a big gap between its strengths and weaknesses that is is difficult to decide whether to recommend this movie or not. According to many critics and the box-office success, and this in a year when horror films couldn't generate considerable revenue, you are led to believe that "Killer Toon" is the long-awaited return to former heights in the genre. But that's not the case at all. For this the movie delivers too many clichés, unnecessary melodrama and overdrawn elements which despite its webtoon premise weren't intended this way.

Killer Toon - Film Screenshot 11

Webtoons are a strong medium in Korea and constantly the basis of movies, be it Hun's "Secretly Greatly" or Kang Pool's "The Neighbors". "Killer Toon" makes use of this fact and incorporates the genre into a horror movie. A pretty nice idea, but in the end it isn't transformed truely profitably. Although it certainly has to be pointed out that the strong emphasis on visuals without a doubt counts among the horror flick's positive qualities which sets it apart from other works of the genre. Especially the introduction peeks our interest and shows how you can shift to comic style during a gory scene and yet avoid alienating the viewer. Moreover, the drawings are technically top-notch. Therefore, the use of webtoon elements, which never feels forced, promises an unsual mix.

Killer Toon - Film Screenshot 12

Unfortunately, the movie soon turns out to be a typical horror flick. Ghosts are looking for revenge on humans, who have wronged someone in order to satisfy their own greed or to save their own hide. This can't really be considered original and it also harms the possibility to relate to someone. From the very beginning Ji-yoon acts very odd and constantly does something stupid which certainly doesn't give her an alibi, instantly making us believe that she has some skeletons in her closet, too. The problem with the female protagonist is also that Kang Ji-yoon ("How to Use Guys with Secret Tips") can't deliver a convincing performance throughout. On the one hand this is because the screenplay deliberately tries to conceal her motives which derives her of real character traits, on the other hand she also overacts at times.

Sometimes Ji-yoon is plain and simple annoying. Eom Gi-joon ("Man of Vendetta") at first gives the impression that we have a charismatic cop to relate to, but his character turns out to be quite bland as well. At least the story unfolds with a fast pacing. If it weren't for the movie's middle part, which - typical for the genre - consists of numerous flashbacks and lengthy explanations. The pacing drops considerably and the melodrama kicks in. At least the drama is carried by some decent melancholic piano score. It takes a while until the pacing picks up again and the last quarter of the film we get the mandatory twists and revelations. Although it has to be noted that "Killer Toon" carries things a bit too far and sketches its "message", if you want to call it that, a little bit too forcefully. The insertion of Ji-yoon being guest in a talk show is a good example for this.

Killer Toon - Film Screenshot 13

For those who have already seen their fair share of Korean horror flicks "Killer Toon" isn't that creepy. But there are enough jump scares. Also, director Kim Yong-gyoon doesn't show as much blood and violence as in his "The Red Shoes", but instead works effectively with his pictures and the fantastic looking webtoon elements. The dark pictures are easy to the eyes and constantly make up for the stupid behavior of some of the characters and an after all very contrived story going hand in hand with plot holes. Kim Yong-gyoon is certainly a capable director as his drama "Wanee and Junah" is proof of, too, and he often manages to let his pictures speak for themselves. This makes "Killer Toon" a visually worthwhile and ultimately almost inventive horror flick, which nonetheless has too many flaws when it comes to the script.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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