×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Missing

"Missing" stands out for its simplicity and lack of exaggeration, like a glass of pure water.

With:
With: Mun Seong-geun, Chu Ja-hyeon, Jeon Se-hong, Oh Seong-su, Nam Mun-cheol, Hwang Eun-jeong, Son Geon-woo, Lee Bong-gu, Son Yeong-sun.

Amid all the super-gore and heavy atmospherics of contempo horror pics, “Missing” stands out for its simplicity and lack of exaggeration, like a glass of pure water — and no less bracing. Straightforward yarn of a taciturn farmer who kidnaps, rapes and murders young women, with no sense of remorse, is closer to South Korean dramas such as Bong Joon-ho’s “Memories of Murder” and “Mother” in its depiction of the dark areas of the Korean psyche beneath normal country life; a fine perf by noted actor Mun Seong-geun also elevates this above pure genre fare. Free-thinking fests should take a look.

Helmer Kim Seong-hong has a solid commercial record, starting as writer of the popular “Two Cops” series and then for thrillers like “The Trap” and “Say Yes.” But “Missing” — based on a real-life case that took place in summer 2007 — is in a different league altogether. Shot for only $1.3 million, the film did moderate biz locally in its March release.

Spoiled Seoul-ite Kang Hyeon-ah (former beauty queen Jeon Se-hong) and her film director b.f., Hong (Son Geon-woo), stay at a small country retreat run by poultry farmer Jang Pan-gon (Mun), who lives with his sick mom and has a rep in town for being a quiet, devoted guy. Without much ado, Pan-gon strangles Hong, splits his skull with a shovel, then drugs and cages Hyeon-ah in a cellar.

Pan-gon first keeps her in the dark for days, then hoses her down and buys her a silver negligee before himself dressing up, crooning a song and raping her.

Ten days later, Hyeon-ah’s elder sister, the very together Hyeon-jeong (Chu Ja-hyeon), arrives looking for her sibling. A local goodtime girl (Hwang Eun-jeong) reports seeing her at Pan-gon’s place, but a visit there with the police turns up nothing. Later, however, Pan-gon lures Hyeon-jeong back to his farm on a phony excuse.

With slight nods to “The Collector” and “Psycho,” but using the simplest means, the film conjures and sustains tension over the question of whether Pan-gon will get away with his crimes and whether Hyeon-jeong will live to tell the tale. Most of the movie is set in broad daylight, in the heat of summer, but a sense of threat is ever present beneath the pic’s matter-of-fact approach.

Mun turns a potentially cliched role into a tour de force of minimal acting. As the elder sister who just won’t give up, Chu makes a determined femme lead sans genre heroics.

Missing

South Korea

Production: A Cinergy release of a Haldong Sajin, Team Works production. (International sales: Showbox/Mediaplex, Seoul.) Produced by Jo Seon-muk. Executive producer, Lee Yeong-seon. Directed by Kim Seong-hong. Screenplay, Kim Yeong-ok.

Crew: Camera (color), Jeong Han-cheol; editor, Gyeong Min-ho; music, Angelo Lee; art director, Jo Yun-ah; costume designer, Jeong Su-yeon; sound (Dolby Digital), Han Myeong-hwan; special effects, Yun Yeo-jin; action director, Kim Cheol-jun. Reviewed at PiFan (World Fantastic Cinema), Bucheon, South Korea, July 22, 2009. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Mun Seong-geun, Chu Ja-hyeon, Jeon Se-hong, Oh Seong-su, Nam Mun-cheol, Hwang Eun-jeong, Son Geon-woo, Lee Bong-gu, Son Yeong-sun.

More Film

  • Against the Clock

    Film News Roundup: Andy Garcia's Spy Thriller 'Against the Clock' Bought by Gravitas

    In today’s film news roundup, Andy Garcia’s spy thriller is sold, “Battlestar Galactica” gets a screenwriter, and Brooklyn Decker gets an award. ACQUISITION Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to spy thriller “Against the Clock,” starring Andy Garcia, Dianna Agron (“Glee”), and Justin Bartha, Variety has learned exclusively. More Reviews London Theater Review: 'The [...]

  • 'Pacific Rim Uprising' film premiere

    John Boyega in Talks to Star in Legal Drama 'A Naked Singularity'

    “Star Wars” actor John Boyega is in talks to star in the legal drama “A Naked Singularity” with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions on board to produce. The movie is based on Sergio De La Pava’s debut novel, which centers on a successful New York public defender whose life begins to unravel after he loses [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    'Aquaman' Outpacing 'Wonder Woman' in Fandango Pre-Sales

    Pre-sales of “Aquaman,” which opens on Thursday night, are outpacing “Wonder Woman” at the same point in the advance ticket sales cycle on online ticketer Fandango. “Wonder Woman” opened with $103 million domestically during the June 2 to June 4, 2017, weekend on its way to a $412 million North American total for Warner Bros. “Aquaman,” [...]

  • European Union Placeholder

    Europe, Hollywood Hail Landmark E.U. Territorial Licensing Agreement

    Industry organizations and major companies in Europe and Hollywood welcomed Tuesday a high-level European Union agreement that in large part preserves producers’ ability to sell movies and TV shows on an exclusive territory-by-territory basis. Territorial licensing is a financial backbone of the film and TV business in Europe. Recognition of such licensing came last Thursday in [...]

  • Box Office: 'Aquaman,' 'Mary Poppins Returns'

    Box Office: 'Aquaman' Battles 'Mary Poppins Returns' in Crowded Holiday Weekend

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the most competitive time at the multiplexes. This weekend sees two very different heroes vying for the box office crown with “Aquaman” and “Mary Poppins Returns” both eyeing sizable debuts. “Mary Poppins Returns” is getting a head start by opening on Wednesday, though estimates show “Aquaman” [...]

  • John Mulaney's Pitch for 'Spider-Ham' Film

    John Mulaney’s Pitch for ‘Spider-Ham’ Film: ‘‘Spotlight’ ... but Family Friendly'

    There is much to celebrate about “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”: groundbreaking inclusion, a ’90s hip-hop soundtrack, Kathryn Hahn’s neurotic villain. But the arguable breakout star of the film is Peter Porker, aka Spider-Ham, voiced by John Mulaney. The prolific comedy writer, stand-up, and rising animation star (see “Big Mouth”) charms as one of the more [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content