Thursday, April 15, 2021

#2,553. The Piper (2015)

A dark retelling of The Pied Piper of Hammelin set during the days of the Korean conflict, director Kim Gwang-tae’s 2015 film The Piper strikes the perfect balance between a fairy tale and a horror movie, ultimately proving to be an effective blend of the two.

A Piper (Ryu Seung-ryong) and his sickly son (played by Goo Seung-Hyun, the boy suffers from tuberculosis, and the Piper is trying to get him to Seoul for treatment) stumble upon a remote village, controlled by a chief (Lee Sung-min) who is determined to protect the status quo, meaning his villagers stay where they are, and never realize that the war is over. The village, however, has a rat problem, and the Piper, who also dabbles in naturalistic medicines, promises to drive the rats away for the price of a pig. In addition, The Piper falls in love with the town’s new Shaman (Woo-Hee Chun, who was also in The Wailing).

Of course, if you’re familiar with the story, you know what happens next: the Piper does what is asked of him, but then the chief convinces the others not to pay. The first hour or so of The Piper has a fairy-tale feel to it, almost like a Disney-level family movie, save the occasional sexual references (which are pretty mild, actually). But boy does the tone change as the film hits that final act, with bloodthirsty rats and curses from beyond the grave.

Hang in there: The Piper may seem horror-lite for a while, but it gets really grim at the end, and brings the terror in a big way.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (it’s a good one!)

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