Monday, September 13, 2021

#2,615. Metamorphosis (2019)


South Korea has been knocking it out of the park in the 21st century, churning out one genre classic after another. From vampires (Thirst) to zombies (Train to Busan) to giant monsters (The Host), South Korea filmmakers have proven themselves the new masters of horror.

Metamorphosis, a 2019 possession-themed film directed by Kim Hong-Sun, tried to continue the trend, only this time the results were mixed.

Following a botched exorcism, which resulted in the tragic death of a teenage girl, Father Joong-Soo (Sung-Woo Bae) decides to leave the priesthood. But before he can hang his crucifix up for the last time, Joong-Soo receives a frantic call from his older brother Gang-Goo (Dong-Il Sung), whose family is being terrorized by a malevolent spirit.

Will Joong-Soo regain his confidence in time to save the day, or will the evil entity win out in the end?

There are aspects of Metamorphosis that work quite well, starting with the family at the center of it all. Having recently moved to a new house, Gang-Goo, his wife Myung-Joo (Jang Young-Nam), and their three kids (Hye-jun Kim, Yi-Hyun Cho and Kang-Hoon Kim), find themselves tormented by a demonic force that doesn’t so much possess his victims as duplicate them. In a very disturbing scene, daughter Hyun-joo (Yi-Huyun Cho) is awakened one night by her father Gang-Goo, who leers at the poor girl as she lays helpless in bed. Only it isn’t her father; it’s the demon, which can take the form of any family member at any given time. Much like the alien creature in John Carpenter’s The Thing, these transformations cause paranoia to run rampant in Gang-Goo’s household, with nobody sure who can be trusted, and who can’t.

And like 1982’s Poltergeist, we care about Gang-Goo and his family, making what happens to them all the more terrifying. In addition, Metamorphosis features a number of surprising twists as it story plays out, most of which prove effective.

Where the movie stumbles is in its depiction of the demon itself, when in its true form. The opening sequence, where we witness Joong-Soo’s failed exorcism, has a familiar, “been there, done that” feel to it, and as a result never generates the thrills it should. Unfortunately, the final confrontation between good and evil is just as humdrum, with a plot twist that was lifted right out of The Exorcist!

Still, Metamorphosis, shortcomings and all, is good enough to warrant some attention.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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