A solid addition to the well-stocked library of Korean revenge mellers, "Who's That Knocking at My Door?" reps a promising debut by scripter-helmer Yang Hae-hoon.

A solid addition to the well-stocked library of Korean revenge mellers, “Who’s That Knocking at My Door?” reps a promising debut by scripter-helmer Yang Hae-hoon. Delivering strongly on its themes of alienation and the lingering effects of childhood trauma, tale of a loner plotting the downfall of a couple who bullied him in high school stutters a little in the opening stanzas before pulling its threads together and ending with a bang. Respectable domestic biz looks likely and regional play is in the cards.

Busy, slightly confusing first reel begins with Internet chatroom messages and voice-overs from multiple sources relating the story of a man who needs to cross a frozen lake if he’s to stop being bullied. Following images of a man in school uniform doing just that and further text messages related to a suicide, focus switches to Je-hwi (Im Ji-gyu), a longhaired oddball seen darting nervously around a drab suburban nowhere.

In a startling meet-cute, he inadvertently saves shy girl Jang-hui (Yun So-si) from being crushed by a sofa dropped by clumsy movers. A haircut later, Je-hwi permits Jang-hui to enter the darkened bedroom he spends most of his time in. Soon, the duo embark on a romance that lacks any passion on Jin-hwe’s part but seems to satisfy the mousey Jang-hui.

So far interesting if scattershot, the pic begins to gel when Je-hwi runs into former schoolmates Pyo (Pyo Sang-u) and Rom (Im Ji-yeon), earlier seen finding, and not reporting, a dead body in a park. Though hardly thrilled to see them, Je-hwi agrees to a double date.

Feigning friendship, Jin-hwe is secretly plotting revenge for the torments he believes Pyo and Rom visited on him in his teenage years. Niftily staged payback mechanics find Je-hwi drafting the services of Choi (Jo Seong-ha), a middle-aged weirdo who believes he’s suffering any number of fatal diseases. Plot takes smart and unexpected turns as the deadly and increasingly bloody maneuvers find Je-hwi, Pyo and finally Choi holding the upper hand.

Well-cast pic is impressively performed and gets particularly good service from Im Ji-gyu as the emotionally barren Je-hwi, and Pyo Sang-yi as his brutish rival.

Generally well-shot images are on the murky side here and there. Rest of craft work is polished.

Who's That Knocking At My Door?

South Korea

Production

A Relay Film production. (International sales: Indievision, Seoul.) Produced by Choi Sang-moon. Executive producer, Sim Gil- jung. Directed, written by Yang Hae-hoon.

Crew

Camera (color), Jeong Hee-seong; editors, Kim Sun-min, I Yeon-jeong; music, Song Joon-seok; production designer, Kim Jeong-hi; sound (Dolby Digital), Hang Chang-a, Han Dae-hee. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (Korean Cinema Today), Oct. 6, 2007. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Im Ji-gyu, Yun So-si, Pyo Sang-u, Im Ji-yeon, Jo Seong-ha. (Korean dialogue)
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