This film is a total mish mash and I mean that in a good/great way. A bit of romance, A bit of action. Tons of comedy. And zombies. What more could you ask from a film? All this adds up to one of the best two hours I have spent at Fantasia this year.
That is not just my opinion based upon the reaction the film got at the screening I attended. The audience was there for all of it. And there was plenty going on. Rarely a lag. Never a dull moment to be found in this South Korean film by director Min-jae Lee. It not only manages to poke some fun at the whole zombie sub genre of film, but makes some interesting statements about life, small towns and family.
Offbeat is the best word you could use to describe the film. Never what you would expect. Nothing predictable happens. Except that you can bank on the fact that you are going to laugh plenty. The story is a fairly simple one in which a pharmaceutical company has done some experiments with a drug which seems to have caused a few people to turn into zombies. One such zombie (Ga-ram Jung – The Poet and the Boy, Believer), a young male, has the fortune or misfortune (depends how you see things) of happening upon the very strange Park family.
The Parks, Joon-Gul (Jae-yeong Jeong – Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Public Enemy 3), Min-Gul (Nam-gil Kim – Memoir of a Murderer, No Regret), Nam-Joo (Ji-won Uhm – Missing Women, The Silenced), Hae-Gul (Soo-kyung Lee – Romantic Island, Rainbow Eyes), and father Man-deok (In-hwan Park – Thirst, The Quiet Family), own and work at a gas station in a dusty small rural town.
Min-gul, having just been fired from his job via text, has recently returned looking for a way to make money. He is not the only one as the patriarch Park has dreamed of traveling to Hawaii for years, but lacks the funds. Most would see a zombie as a threat. Rather the Parks see it/him as a way to make money. That is except for Hae-Gul, who ends up falling for the undead creature.
Adorable and zombie film are not two things you would expect to see together. And yet….this is a zombie film which is in no way scary (though admittedly I find very few of them scary and most quite tedious). I mean, even the main zombie seems to be a vegetarian as it prefers cabbage to human flesh. Though the Parks are all stange ragamuffins they are very likable. Even the scheming brother and father. Absolutely charming. Every last one of them. Including the zombie. Each character is rather fleshed out and pretty quickly. They, the Parks, are all rather different. Most of the laughs are of the non-venomous variety. Plus they happen rather organically without a note of falsehood to them which to me demonstrates strong script writing. One of the most clever parts is when it uses a scene from the marvelous zombie flick, Train to Busan, to explain to a character what zombies are.
Doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. There are no pretensions to being “art” here. Though it should be pointed out that the cinematography was gorgeous for the large part. Its main purpose is to entertain and that is a goal it attains. Without having to resort to the tired old cliches which the genre often falls prey to.
Totally a type of zombie film you have never seen before. I have said it before and I will probably say it again, South Korea makes great films!