Continuing with the recent onslaught of Korean horror films, I was able to sit down and catch a viewing of Spider Forest, a psychological thriller starring R Point's Woo-seong Kam as a recently widowed production manager with a very sketchy and shrouded past. The film itself is a retread of more effective horrors like Haute Tension, however Kam's performance is yet again stellar and reason alone to endure the complex plot and ending of the movie.
Kang Min is a production manager for a television studio who mysteriously finds himself walking through a forest to a house he does not recognize. Once inside the home, he finds the corpses of both his boss and present girlfriend, victims of a brutal attack. Surprised to find his girlfriend partially alive, Kang becomes more perplexed as she continuously mutters "I'm afraid of the spiders. I'm sorry." Before she can give an explanation, she dies in Kang's arms. Hearing a noise at the other end of the house, Kang grabs a weapon off the floor and gives chase to the obvious perpetrator. Once in the forest, the perpetrator tricks Kang and gives him a royal beat down with a log, leaving him half conscious and damaged. Kang wanders into a tunnel that leads to the forest and is moved down by an auto parts truck in a pretty ridiculous CG scene. Losing consciousness and bleeding profusely from the head, the screen blacks out as Kang reaches out to touch the perpetrator that has approached him after the accident.
Waking up in a hospital bed, Kang cannot remember much of his life, let alone the last hours before arriving in the hospital. All he keeps muttering is that he has to go back to the forest and that there are two dead bodies in the house. Alarmed by Kang's claims, the doctors phone the police, who send in an investigator that happens to be one of Kang's acquaintances. Kang begins telling the cop what he can remember of the night and the events leading up to his accident. The investigator believes that Kang is the perpetrator, but soon throws his theory out the window as Kang's story begins to unravel into a more complex web of related events in the man's history.
Needing to find the truth for himself, Kang escapes from the hospital and heads back to the town where he first heard the legend of Spider Forest from a photo shop owner, Min (played by the Isle's Suh). Recalling memories of his past encounters with Min, Kang begins piecing together the events that led up to him arriving at the forest and his connection to the dead bodies in the house. Kang sets out to find Min in the present time, however, there are no records of such a woman recently living in the town. As Kang becomes more confused by his actions of the present, his past begins to come back even clearer, sorting out the parts of the story that are indeed fact and fabrications of the mind.
Spider Forest is an enrapturing film for the first 45 minutes, however, it begins to fall apart when director Il-gon Song begins to present memory recollections that are both inconsistent with the story and hardly explained. The poor execution of the intricate storyline detracts from Woo-seong Kam's phenomenal performance and also lessens the effects of a creepy setting that would have otherwise proven to be an incredible asset to the film. There are so many memories revisited with altered details that the experience quickly becomes trite and uninteresting to the viewer, leaving Spider Forest a work that was both disappointing and incomplete in my eyes.
Not surprisingly, the all region disc offers up no extras, sans the choice of a DTS or 5.1 Surround sound setting. Again, an incomplete work in my eyes, Spider Forest was a complete letdown after gaining a great deal off attention through the early stages of the film. Not intent on spoiling the ending of the film (if you can't figure it out after the first 10 minutes) I'll let the diligent fans sit through Kam's awesome performance and let them draw their own conclusions. I won't outright state to avoid the film, but I am not a firm supporter of these type of "twists" because the intent of the film seems to quickly become convoluted by the director's attempt to "surprise" the audience. Spider Forest was not surprising. In fact, I would describe it as more confusing than anything. Good luck.