Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Bluebeard: The Doctor and the Butchers
would think karma would ease up on the bankrupt doctor once he accepted a
temporary position in an exurban clinic specializing in colonoscopies, but Seung-hoon’s
troubles are only beginning. He has started to suspect his new landlords are
serial killers and that they suspect that he suspects. The butchers living
downstairs may in fact be butchers in director-screenwriter Lee Soo-youn’s Bluebeard (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
a decade ago, this regional industrial town was notorious for being the serial
killer capital of Korea. The grisly murders had supposedly stopped, but the
cops are starting to find body parts in the river again. It is bad timing for
Seung-hoon. He came to town hoping to regroup after both his tony Gangnam clinic
and his marriage to the unstable Soo-jung failed. He will not lack for work in
the super busy clinic, the region’s only medical facility, where he works with
Nurse Mi-yeon. She knows she is still cute, so she expects to get away with a
are one of their most common procedures. They can be rather uncomfortable to
perform, especially when anesthetized patients unwittingly reveal embarrassing
facts. However, when the cranky old father of Sung-hoon’s landlord starts mumbling
advice on the proper method for dismembering and disposing of bodies, his words
have an alarming ring of real life experience.
a result, Seung-hoon no longer feels comfortable in his crummy flat, even
though his landlord Sung-geun wants to drinking buddies. It turns out the
butcher’s first wife “abandoned” him without a trace and his second wife just
suddenly decided to take a trip. The doctor’s worst fears seem to be realized
when he spies a severed head in Sung-geun’s freezer during a hardcore
braincell-killing drinking session, but he is too drunk and exhausted to deal
with it in a rational manner.
a game of cat-and-mouse proceeds, but there will be several wild cards,
including a mysterious retired police detective. Of course, there will be twists,
including a big one that pulls the rug out from under our feet, which will be
revealed in an epilogue much like that of Hitchcock’s Psycho, except longer and possibly darker.
is hard to classify Bluebeard as
either a horror film, a serial killer thriller, or an intimate Polanski-esque
portrait of insanity and the further madness it produces. However, there is no
question Cho Jin-woong’s weirdly clammy and tightly wound performance as the
unfortunate doctor keeps us completely off balance. Likewise, the eerily
baby-faced Kim Dae-myung is thoroughly creepy as Sung-geun, while Lee Chung-ah
adds further elements of unpredictability as Mi-yeon, the flighty pseudo-femme
is an icily cerebral and manipulative film, but
it is jolly fun to watch the lengths Lee Soo-youn goes to, just for the sake of
playing the audience. It is an unrepentantly sinister and devious film, in the
best sense. Recommended for fans of serial killer movies, Bluebeard opens this Friday (3/17) in New York, at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Korean Cinema, Serial killer movies