Saturday, August 1, 2015

Haunters: A Psychological Thriller

Several years ago, I discovered a fantastic Korean actor, Kang Dong-Won. My sister and I went on a Kang Dong-Won binge, watching everything he was in (and almost never disappointed). One movie in particular really stood out to me, amid his other fantastic films (Secret Reunion, Woochi, Maundy Thursday) - it was a movie called Haunters (sometimes Psychic). The title is misleading, as the movie has nothing to do with haunting in the usual sense of the word. It has nothing to do with ghosts or the afterlife. Instead, it follows an ordinary man Kyu-Nam (Go Soo), as his life is suddenly turned upside-down with the invasion of Cho-In (Kang Dong-Won), a man with supernatural mental abilities.

This was the movie where Kang Dong-Won became one of my all-time favorite actors. The story doesn't attempt to explain how Cho-In got his psychic abilities - he simply has them. Cho-In's character is complex and fascinating - he can freeze people with his mind, or force them to do whatever he wants. As a child he killed his father to save his mother from abuse, but his mother couldn't handle having a psychic child and attempted to kill him in return. Now he lives apart from people, never having learned how to behave like a normal human being, never having learned to control his abilities. Very much a child, he becomes threatened when he comes across Kyu-Nam - the only person he's ever met who can, for some reason, withstand his psychic abilities.

The performances in this film are spectacular (and features foreign actors who aren't horrible excuses for 'foreigners'! Go Soo is your average guy next door, trying to do the right thing and protect people, while Cho-In is a sympathetic villain you want desperately to get his life in order. The movie is psychologically intense, but not without humor. The visual effects are fantastic - and one of the best is one of the most subtle. Cho-In has a prosthetic leg, and honestly, he was so good at acting crippled that I legitimately thought Kang Dong-Won was until I did more research. (Oh, those early days when I wasn't familiar with him.) The movie is dark, but the ending is full of hope. It's also a highly emotional film - I've seen it six times, and every time my emotions feel like wrung-out laundry. There are several jarring deaths, although the movie itself is not gory, nor does it revel in killing. There is very little language and no sexual content. I highly, highly recommend it - and, in fact, I think I'm going to watch it again sometime this week.

Do you have a favorite psychological thriller?


  1. Well, I'll have to add this to the list of stuff you've recommended that I need to watch. It never seems to shrink. ;)

  2. Have you done a post on Wolf Boy yet? I'd bet it'd make me cry again.

    Seriously though, this makes me want to watch yet another K-movie and I'm not sure my soul is ready for that yet. o______________________o

  3. *immediately adds this movie to ever-growing list of kdramas*