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Haunters

(Choneung Ryukja)
Sponsored by: Ciné Asie

Canadian Premiere

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Official Selection, New York Asian Film Festival 2011
Official Selection, Udine Far East Film Festival 2011

Screening Times


“Kim's writing-directing debut is a superior entry... an adrenaline-fueled ride, powered by energetic fight scenes” — Russell Edwards, VARIETY

Credits

Director: Kim Min-suk
Screenplay: Kim Min-suk
Cast: Gang Dong-won, Ko Soo, Jeong Eun-chae, Abu Dod, Enes Kaya
Producers: Lee Yu-jin
Print Source: M-Line

Cinemabox

Description

Cho-in wasn’t the healthiest or happiest child, with a sickly build, a prosthetic leg and, worst of all, a fearful and abusive family. He had one strength, though, a carefully hidden one. He had instant control over the mind and actions of anyone who fell under his gaze, be it his violent father (who Cho-in dealt with one overcast day in a quick but shocking manner) or complete strangers. Today, Cho-in is quite comfortable financially — mind control has its obvious advantages — but still a gaunt, brooding loner. Kyu-nam, on the other hand, is his polar opposite. He’s boyishly handsome, outgoing, cheerful and a good buddy to his two best friends, a pair of immigrant workers from Turkey and Ghana with whom Kyu-nam kids around and whiles away the hours at the scrapyard where they work. He also seems quite resilient, bouncing back quickly from accidents that might leave others dead or disabled for life. It’s by pure chance that Cho-in and Kyu-nam cross paths, and while Cho-in’s powers, and the extent of his malice, are already quite apparent, it is then that Kyu-nam’s abilities truly surface. Not only is he resistant to physical damage, he is also the only person who Cho-in cannot dominate with his mind. And as Cho-in soon discovers, Kyu-nam is that type of guy who’ll stop at nothing to right a wrong and protect those he cares for.

No capes, masks, leotards or other fancy apparel here. HAUNTERS is, in the tradition of M. Night Shyamalan’s UNBREAKABLE, a superhero film that never explicitly announces itself as such, despite its perfectly counterbalanced champion and villain. In fact, at first blush, it seems to owe more to the Asian horror wave, not only in its grim and washed-out aesthetic but in its absolutely heart-stopping moments of supernatural violence. Moreover, thanks to a clever script and astute direction by Kim Min-suk (no stranger to inspired genre-blending, he wrote the awesome “kimchi Western” THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD), the occasional narrative quirk and oddball joke (watch for a subtle poke at da Vinci’s “Last Supper” in the junkyard), and the underlying thread of solid friendship as life’s true treasure, never distract from but in fact only enhance the impact of HAUNTERS as a distinctive and intelligent alternative to the usual, over-the-top fare of superhero cinema.

—Rupert Bottenberg

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