Story by: Dean Crawford, Photos by:
Action / Drama / Horror
106 minutes / Directed by Kong Su-chang / R
With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to celebrate the festive season than by watching two of the best Korean horror films from the last 10 years? “That’s not very festive,” I hear you say. Well, unlike Heo Jin-ho’s “Christmas in August” (1998), one of these films actually has some snow, so does that help?
Growing up in the early ’90s meant there was no way of finding out about foreign cinema except for reading monthly magazines or spending hours browsing a video shop. However, one way of ensuring you chose a quality foreign release was to look for anything distributed by Tartan Extreme, the foremost authority on bringing quality foreign movies to a British audience. I was particularly fond of their spin-off label Asia Extreme, and I would literally choose their films at random knowing that I would never be disappointed. It was through this method that I found out about several classics, including Takashi Miike’s fantastic “Audition” (1999), but one Asia Extreme release that passed me by was Kong Su-chang’s highly rated “R-Point” (2004).
Set in 1972 during the Vietnam War, Lieutenant Choi Tae-in (Kam Woo-sung) is sent to the infamous R-Point site on a mission to recover a missing platoon. En route, his men engage in gunfire with a Vietnamese woman, who is killed. Forced to take shelter in an abandoned mansion, the platoon immediately gets a sense of unease as members of Lt. Choi’s squad start dying one by one.
“R-Point” utilizes some of my favorite horror tropes and executes them very well. But I particularly like the moment when a soldier fixes a tape player and the rest of the squad dances to music by ’50s instrumental band The Ventures. Suddenly, the music cuts out and is replaced by the sounds of Choi’s squad screaming and killing each other. Very creepy stuff. I also love how the spirit plays with their minds; the soldiers all have secrets and the spirit knows them. You can run from a bullet, but you can’t run from yourself.
As far as I’m aware, “R-Point” is the only Vietnam-inspired horror movie, which may come as no surprise because you’ll have a hard time bettering this one.