I know that there are many admirers for this film out there but as much as I wanted to like Bedevilled, I only found myself growing to dislike the final product all the more. I hold quite high regard for the many extremes that Korean films are able to reach as I rather enjoy Oldboy and I Saw the Devil, so obviously I’ve been left to the degree to which the extremities that can be reached with the graphic violence will not traumatize me. However, it doesn’t give me an immediate impression that it’ll leave me to like what I’m seeing and in the case of Bedevilled, I almost grew rather close to loathing it.
While it’s set up very interestingly in the film’s beginning moments, at least there’s a chance to connect with the characters whom we are set to see being stranded on the remote island in which much of the film is going to be taking place. Sadly, said development doesn’t really add up to very much for we’re left with rather flat protagonists and that results in the film’s means of exploring their psychology as they never seem to work hard enough in order to gain our interests and with that out of the way, most of what’s offered afterwards only ends up feeling rather pointless.
After a seemingly interesting setup, the film heads into the very worst territory such extreme cinema can really enter, it ends up feeling rather boring for the most part. While I love a sense of slow buildup being presented for a film much like this one, what really ends up turning rather disappointing is the feeling like the film is just dragging every minute of its length trying to establish its own tone. I’m not so sure how the melodramatic setup in the opening were to prepare the viewers for what were to come afterwards but the sudden shift in tone just irritated me because it gave a feeling of disjointedness that in the end distanced me. It starts off with the tone of a melodrama, but then suddenly it wants to become a slow-building horror film, and then the final shift in tone is perhaps the worst of the bunch.
Said final shift in tone is that the film just seems to enter the territory of torture porn. At least when Park Chan-wook offered up all the torture running throughOldboy, it feels as if in there it’s making sense at least because of how it’s part of Oh Dae-su’s characterization which brings us to be much more fascinated with him as a protagonist. While I was watching Bedevilled, I was only getting the impression that because I had such difficulty even connecting with the characters within what was already an interesting setup for the atmosphere, even the most violent scenes did not get a jolt out of me, and suddenly everything is made all the more pointless when we find out the payoff we are left with at the very ending, which contrasts everything that had been given out beforehand (only leaving me to question what was the point Bedevilled was trying to get across).
This isn’t a completely horrible film for at least there’s an interesting moment here and there, it’s just lost within something that doesn’t even know what it wants to be and suddenly leaves everything rendered pointless by the time the final moments hit. I really highly admire the extremes that Korean cinema can be rather brave enough to reach, because normally Hollywood audiences would not find themselves experiencing what films like these can provide on the screen. Unfortunately, Bedevilled is clearly not a film I would go to as a means of providing an example of why I admire the extremes in which they reach because outside of the violence, the ending turns everything to the Hollywood audiences and for the most part, is rather flat.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Sponge ENT.
Directed by Jang Cheol-soo
Screenplay by Choi Kwang-young
Produced by Park Kyu-young
Starring Seo Young-hee, Ji Sung-won
Release Year: 2010
Running Time: 115 minutes