IR Film Review: METAMORPHOSIS [Shudder]

The texture of Korean horror is pushing elements beyond their breaking point in being both uncomfortable but mythic and cautionary in a certain way. “Metamorphosis” is a play on that idiom but it leans a lot on the basis of “The Exorcist”. Now granted the perception is different because of a different culture and country. This story is based in many ways in traditionalism and also a sense of pride. It dwells on the balance of adequate behavior and perspective. The basis of the story is built in the first 20 minutes where a priest specializing in exorcisms does his best to save a traumatized girl and through the multiple faces of the demon is not able to fully complete his task. He is shamed, not by the church bt the family he was trying to save and so a curse of sort is placed on him and his family per se. The bigger ideas here in terms of concept are interesting though ultimately it is kept very insular. The bulk of the movie follows the father’s extended family (his brother who has a wife, two daughters and a son). While it is meant to play in a way as a haunted house movie of sorts, the mechanics are a little bit muddled and never quite function exactly as they might.

Certain ideas and switches of identity are effectively done using a small space and little to no effects. In one space of about 10 minutes, this gives the film a unique visceral quality but it can’t quite stay there. Granted this was made on smaller budget. Yet there is a intensity of production design that we see at an adjacent house which really effectively sells the horror and yet its explanation is short of fruition despite making sense. It is the conclusion after a big set up of sorts that ultimately brings the story back to its insular setting. Without giving spoilers away, the priest must again confront his fears. Another scene leading up to the ending again takes that use of identity and amps it up but not for any true plot viability. It goes on a bit too long for that. One specific demise had a lot of power in its impact but in many ways is used as an after thought when its actual occurrence could have fueled a far greater amount of despair against the demon per se. This might have been an interesting build. “Metamorphosis” has some good ideas behind it despite it horror tropes roots but never fully delivers beyond its structure the greater existential story that could have been.

C

By Tim Wassberg

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