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Simon Read [Film Festival 05.11.11] zombies movie review apocalyptic horror south korea

Year: 2010
Directors: Young-Geun Hong/Hoon Ryoo/Oh Young-Doo
Writers: Young-Geun Hong/Hoon Ryoo/Oh Young-Doo
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Projectcyclops
Rating: 7 out of 10

An anthology of six segments set in a South Korean city during a zombie outbreak, The Neighbor Zombie is pretty deranged offering from six separate directors who decided to make their respective shorts into a feature. The tone of the film shifts wildly between the various episodes, which are titled: Crack, Run Away, Mother I Love You, The Age of Vaccine, I’m Sorry and Painkiller. The strongest element of Neighbor Zombie is by far its unconventional nature, which is precisely why the festival director (not a massive zombie fan oddly enough) picked it for the line-up. So, does it work?

By and large yes. The first segment is maybe the strangest, as a nerdy single guy plays with his anime toys, his apartment suddenly wages war on him, sucking him under the bed, smacking him around and refusing to let him leave. He gradually becomes injured almost beyond recognition and the ending is something of a sucker-punch. Part two consists of the age old question of what to do when your significant other becomes infected, but not quite yet at the level of flesh eater, and is something of a comedy skit. Three is probably the most polished, and poignant as a young woman tries to find food for her undead mother, eventually raising suspicions and facing a police call out. As part four begins we finally see things from a military perspective and get some more history of how the virus originated (botched AIDS vaccine) and see the birth of zombie super soldiers who enjoy a “Zombie high”. The best and most interesting segment is part five, in which a ‘cured’ ex-zombie must come to terms with what he did while under the zombie influence, and faces constant revenge from the relatives of his victims. Part six plays over the credits and is a kind of post-modern little vignette where the writer of the film itself becomes infected due to a few too many aspirins.

South Korean cinema is something I can hardly say I’m an expert on, but like quite a lot of Asian films it’s heavily influenced by the culture and seems more than a little alien to a Westerner like me. Characters spout bizarre dialogue, for example, “Fucking zombie! Today I shall finish you, up!” The episodes, as I’ve already said, are all quite different in the way they’re presented, some are extremely violent and gory, others quite silly and sweet (in Run Away we’re treated to an Amilie-esque montage in which the characters try on disguises and blow kisses to the camera) while a segment like ‘I’m Sorry’ is almost a zombie-drama with quite a serious look at guilt and revenge, reminding me of ‘Shatter Dead’ a little. The directors are all clearly in love with the genre and quite cineliterate, as we get a slow motion death scene set to Adagio for Strings (think Defoe’s death scene in Platoon) and about a dozen Tarantino references, etc. It’s all quite entertaining and I wasn’t bored at any point, but it is a very weird film. I suppose it is preferable to another bog-standard zombie flick in which A follows B until we end up at Z, but there isn’t any real heft to the story as it’s obviously extremely episodic and the fate of the characters matters only to those on-screen.

As an experiment though it doesn’t shatter the test tubes, but bubbles along happily enough for an hour and a half. Anyone wanting something different from a zombie film who doesn’t mind appallingly badly translated subtitles will have a good time with this one, as I did, just don’t expect “Dawn” levels of human interest or plot.

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recherche (6 years ago) Reply

Sounds like you get a little bit of everything from bloody Romcom to Gothic/ Surrealist. It sounds as if it might be fun to watch!


Chris R (6 years ago) Reply

the rats... they're eating me alive...

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