Whatever irony you throw at the ordeal movie – or the horror psycho-thriller – they always make for a discomfiting, deliberately nasty, rollercoaster ride. But some, like ‘Polanski’s ‘Cul-de-Sac’, or ‘Michael Haneke’s ‘Funny Games’ for instance, have instructive method in their mayhem-filled madness; likewise director Won Shin-yun’s expertly directed ’Scope humiliation-fest – which sees a pointedly vain, not to say sexually-predatory, music professor and his ingénue charge marauded by four pyschopathic Seoul suburbanites – has enough elements of sharp social critique, cutting cultural comment and absurdist comedy to suggest it might function as an expiatory experience in its domestic market.
Ripped from its home context, however, many of the subtleties are blunted – such as the references to the maddening, de-humanising influence of Korean militarism and elitist school stratification, manically lampooned here in the guise of four baseball bat-wielding loons. Still, Won pulls off a rare trick: to be funny and frightening while continuing to ratch the tension up and up. Performances, too, are top notch.