15 years of being imprisoned in this room, within these walls with nothing more than the blaring of the television my only companion. My pleas and cries fall on deaf ears when my captors slide the food through the small window at the bottom of the door. Every day the same plate of dumplings. Every night I’m gassed to sleep. How much longer can I endure without a single word from anyone? Why am I even here? What could I have done to anyone that would warrant this, the loss of my life and loss of my humanity?
I woke up today after being gassed and suddenly I am outside. I’m on a rooftop and the sun is so glorious, so bright that I wrench myself to the ground in tears. And while I bask in this freedom for a fleeting moment, I will discover all too soon that all this is nothing more than a larger prison and my warden will soon let my crimes be known to me.
Here is a movie that is both captivating and entrancing all at once. You yearn for the answers to Daesu’s questions: who is his captor, and what could he have done that was so horrendous that his punishment would be that severe? The clues and bits of information are presented at a good pace and only serve for you to more eagerly await the answers that are in store. But it is the full revelation of his captor’s plans that is simply mind-blowing. The lengths to which he went to enact his revenge and the full implications are astounding. While the cinematography or music can seem a tad kitschy at times with several scenes being almost unnecessarily long (such as the sex scene or the very real octopus eating scene) which makes them unintentionally hilarious, it can add to the story and cause the viewer to really watch and appreciate the scene. The fight scene in particular was the best for having been longer and was done entirely in one take. Despite this, the strength of the movie lays entirely in the story and the indescribably good acting of the protagonist, played by Choi Min-sik, who’s portrayal of a man on the verge of insanity being thrust back into society is incredibly real feeling. It’s genuine. And the lengths to which he goes to to protect his love Mido is visceral and desperate and insane, but shows us all too well that even a monster, a creature lower than a beast, can still feel and care for others.
I won’t lie, I’m very fond of psychological thrillers and the portrayal of a human version of Harlow’s monkeys is absolutely fascinating. The hallucinations he sees, his lack of social skills, and the near breaking of his mind was just too interesting. This is a movie that fascinates, intrigues, makes us laughs and makes us squirm all at once. It’s hard to not want to miss a single beat of this film as anything could be a potential clue.