Teenage actress Kim Sae-ron as the role of Won Yeo-sun act out a scene for the suspense thriller "My Neighbor" set to hit local theaters on August 23, 2012. [Lotte Entertainment]
THE BOTTOM LINE
"Too many cooks, don’t always spoil the broth."
Though “My Neighbor” deals with the serious issue of serial killings, the movie's overall tone is less scary and suspenseful than expected. In the end, the Korean thriller manages to give the audience a chance to look back on their relationship with their neighbors, while portraying the teamwork between seven characters against one murderer.
Helmed by director Kim Whee, who is the scenarist of "Haeundae" (2009) which surpassed 10 million viewers, “My Neighbor” is based on same titled web-cartoon by famed webcomic artist Kang Full.
Following the general storyline of Kang's original work, Kim focuses on a case of serial killings in his first feature film, which is currently one of the biggest social issues in the country.
Actress Kim Yun-jin as her character Song Kyung-hee acts scared and hides under a table after the ghost of her dead stepdaughter visits her every day in the movie "My Neighbor" set to hit local theaters on August 23, 2012. [Lotte Entertainment]
"My dead daughter has been coming home to see me for over a week now." Feeling guilty for not seeing her stepdaughter, Won Yeo-sun, come home from school on the day of her death, Song Kyung-hee has been terrified of the daily visits made by Won's ghost.
However, the residents slowly come face to face with the situation and suspect the man living in apartment number 102 named Ryu Seung-hyuk. What leads to the suspicion is that he ordered a pizza on the day of the murder, bought a bag similar to the one that contained the corpse and paid a lot of money for his water bill.
After figuring out that his neighbors have uncovered his true identity, Ryu decides to end his killing spree with one last murder. He targets a teenage girl named Yoo Su-yeon, who closely resembles his previous victim Won, which leads to the final battle between Ryu and his neighbors regarding whether Yoo will live or die.
Kim Sung-kyun as the murderer Ryu Seung-hyuk cleans up the blood after killing a person in his basement for a scene in suspense thriller "My Neighbor" set to hit local theaters on August 23, 2012. [Lotte Entertainment]
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE
It is hard to pinpoint who exactly is the main character in "My Neighbor" since Kim's thriller manages to smoothly unfold the story with its eight, small but important, characters. Unlike the case of the phrase "too many cooks, spoil the broth," Kim seems to have good taste in selecting the cast and commands of the saying so well.
Headed by top actress Kim Yun-jin, who was one of the heroines on American channel ABC's hit TV series "Lost" (2004-2012), the interplay between the actors forms a definite nucleus for the cartoon-based movie.
With all the actors playing their parts with enthusiasm, actor Kim Sung-kyun stands out the most with his perfect portray of his psycho murderer character, Ryu Seung-hyuk. He has already garnered positive response from movie critics and reporters due to his bold acting skills shown throughout the movie.
In addition, veteran actors Ma Dong-suk and Im Ha-ryong provides that extra quality of humor in this serious thriller, so the viewers do not have any time to feel bored during the 115 minute film.
The well-organized ensemble is seen throughout the storyline of "My Neighbor" with its most memorable scene where the residents gather into the murder's house one by one in order to save Su-yeon, without discussing it one another. Overall, the director's message of how neighbors should care about each other in today's society is expressed fully and naturally throughout the movie.
Actor Chun Ho-jin as the security guard named Pyo Jong-rok holding onto a wrench in his office for a scene of suspense thriller "My Neighbor" set to hit local theaters on August 23, 2012. [Lotte Entertainment]
In various interviews with media outlets, director Kim mentioned that he did not want to spin a new setting in the original cartoon and hopes to maintain the originality of Kang's popular webtoon in order to meet the needs the die-hard fans.
However, the movie version of "My Neighbor" feels empty for the readers of the webcomic because it is unable to step out of the context of the cartoon itself.
It becomes most evident when the personality of the murderer is disclosed in the first 20 minutes of the film.
Even though the thriller delivers a good message about neighbors in modern society, the main point of the thriller-suspense genre is to heighten the tension throughout the movie, which "My Neighbor" failed to do.
Nonetheless, it is pretty hard to deny that director Kim has done so with the difficult task of turning the popular webtoon and its leading characters into a film. Though, thanks to the steady interplay between the main cast and the director, "My Neighbor" holds onto its social perspective throughout the movie though it still suffers from weaknesses.
Co-starring teenage actress Kim Sae-ron, Jang Young-nam and Do Ji-han, "My Neighbor" will open nationwide on August 23.
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