By Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa

Out of the blue, Kyung -Min calls his old school friend Jong -suk. The two haven’t seen each other since graduation. They go for a drink and begin to talk. Throughout the night their conversation reveals a darker part of their life: a history of violence during their youth.

Back in time, they used to be two losers, one rich and poor, packed together to be victims of bullying by their classmates. In this film, the school becomes a model of Korea’s hierarchical patriarchal society.

Soon, Chul becomes involved. He helps them by fighting back against the gang with  unpredictable rage and violence.  Chul’s father ran away due to financial problems. He lives with his mother who has turned prostitution to make a living. He cares for nothing, and has a bitter hatred of the school bullies, vowing to make sure they won’t live their lives happily.

Starting from that point, Chul drags these two boys into the darker, deeper part of their life, not by leading them to violence or give them power to fight back, but by releasing the monster in their mind.

It’s nothing new to use animation (often misunderstood as merely for children) as a tool to portray evil. But in this case, animation is not used for the purpose of shocking people by using an unlikely medium to emphasize the ugliness of violence. Instead, the film captures the hatred, wrath and rage of the protagonists via their distorted facial expressions. Close-up shots show how young children can become psychotically evil and cruel, and the exaggerated drawing style serves this purpose well.

The subject matter is nothing new, but stories about bullies are usually handled as action films, fantasizing the loser as discovering  bravery and finding the ability to fight back. This film doesn’t give its audience that kind of easy pleasure. The more the protagonists use violence, the closer they become to real monsters, amplified by the style of animation.

This film recalls what Kiyoshi Kurosawa said about his film Cure: everybody has a pond of evil inside us. A pond in which we store our rage, our wrath, our hatred. One day, someone will open this well. This is what this film brings us to, in the end: the darkness at the bottom of the well.

Director:  Yeun Sang-ho
Producer:  Cho Young-kag
Screenwriter:  Yeun Sang-ho
Cast: Yang Ik-June  ,Oh Jung-se ,Kim Hye-na
South Korea
97 mins