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Korean Thriller About a Psychopathic Mother

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2 ½ Stars: A Wife's Love Against The Twisted Love of a "Psycho" Mother

  • Sep 19, 2009

In the quest to find a different kind of Asian horror (avoiding the “Yurei” theme for awhile), I stumbled upon this Korean thriller with a sort of a “Fatal Attraction” kind of theme with the twist of family. “The Hole” (a.k.a. “Olgami”, The Snare, 1997) caught my attention since it brought awards to Korean actress Choi Ji-Woo (won best new actress for her role). Directed by Kim Sung-Hong, the film may not offer anything groundbreaking but it does offer up decent suspense in a psycho war between two women who love the same man; one is the wife and the other, the man’s own mother.
Su-Jin (Choi Ji-Woo) is a beautiful young woman who was orphaned at an early age. She hopes to begin a new family by marrying a charming young man named Dong-Woo (Yong Woo-Park). However, Dong-Woo has lived interdependently with his mother (Yoon So-Jeong) since the early death of his father. Mother and son have lived together for 30 years, and when Su-Jin does moves in after the wedding, the mother isn’t too pleased. Su-Jin realizes that Dong-Woo’s mother is extremely possessive of her son and soon, Su-Jin begins to feel the hostility towards her. Apparently, Dong-Woo’s mother has a twisted idea as to what a mother’s love should be and would do whatever it takes to keep any woman away from her son.
“The Hole” is pretty much your routine film about obsession and tragic ruin. The film doesn’t really offer anything innovative or different, but it does serve up decent suspense that I found myself quite curious as to how the film would turn out. While the film is predictable on so many levels and granted, the script does have its share of flaws and gaping holes, I was pleased with the performances of its lead performers. The film is pretty entertaining that I was able to look past its plot missteps and Choi Ji-Woo is really enticing to look at. The film has this overly possessive psycho-mother theme going for it, so you can see the twists and turns coming a mile away, but it also does manage to keep you interested. I was real intrigued as to how far the close relationship really went with Dong-Woo and his mother that she would be this hostile to her beautiful daughter-in-law.
From the film’s opening act, you can see that the mother and her son has too much of a close relationship. They almost act like they were lovers and the direction doesn’t try to hide this fact. Their near-incestuous relationship is hinted at, especially when Su-Jin witnesses the mother still bathing her adult son. Alarm signals were already sounding off, but Su-Jin does try to work through it, because of her love for Dong-Woo. I thought the film was about to get worst and worst, as the film was all set to unravel in a very disturbing manner, but director Kim decides to opt for the elements of a slasher-stalker film. I thought this film would unravel as if Sion Sono or Takashi Miike was on its helm, but I remembered that this is a Korean film, and a truly disturbing sequence would go against its nature.
Still, the film does slowly unravel in a suspenseful manner driven by the performances of Choi Ji-Woo and Yoon So-Jeong. The two women made for several convincing scenes of rivalry and what made it disquieting is the idea that they are competing for the affections as a wife and as a mother-lover. I know the idea is a little too far-fetched but the idea did bring some chills to my bones, I cannot imagine a psycho-mother behaving this way. The fact that the mother sees her daughter-in-law as another ‘toy’ that would not sever the close ties between mother and son is pretty twisted. Su-Jin is a character who I found very sympathetic, as she was prepared and happy to fulfill her duties as a wife and a daughter-in-law. She tries to reach out and be part of the family, but her efforts are seen as manipulative by the mother.
The script does begin fairly strong, but started to lose steam in the second half as some devices in the story began to be filled with major contrivances. I felt that the script didn’t exactly flesh out the events before the wedding, and that some scenes felt too convenient. I also thought that the direction didn’t have the guts to really follow through with its intentioned theme that it fell to the trappings of the usual psycho-killer premise. The film’s soundtrack also bothered me quite a bit that it had the qualities of a bombastic 80’s thriller. The film has several sex scenes but they weren’t too graphic and the scenes didn’t have any nudity. There are quite a few scenes of violent behavior that definitely brings the mother’s madness into exposition.
Still, “The Hole” makes for some entertaining experience. It is a fairly decent thriller and I am sure that the movie would find an audience. The film’s plot isn’t anything special but the great performances saved the movie for me. It had some spicy ideas that were strongly hinted at, but the direction just didn’t follow through. (did they or didn’t they?) I was also a bit disappointed with the film’s climax that I thought it was a cheap shot to play at emotions. But “The Hole” is a pretty entertaining thriller, a rampaging psycho-mother who wants to keep the ultimate momma’s boy is always interesting.
Rent It! [2 ½ Stars]
DVD Su-jin and Dong-Woo Choi Ji-Woo moving in... family?? sexy Choi Ji-Woo

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September 26, 2009
Boy oh boy. What can I say? How about a nice comedy Woop? Just for a change of pace.
September 27, 2009
I did I did! I reviewed "Ponyo" and "Cyborg She"! I'll review another action-comedy for you! Mack and Ceno are trying to corrupt me LOL!
September 27, 2009
Oops. I must have skipped those.
September 27, 2009
You've read CYBORG SHE but I think you missed "Ponyo". I'll be dropping an action- comedy Korean movie just for you...You're right, of course a change of pace is always healthy. Oh, I dropped that review for PANDORUM...
September 27, 2009
I was thinking it's time for you to do (cringe) a romantic comedy.
September 27, 2009
I did one right here http://www.lunch.com/reviews/UserReview-My_S..._and_Unpredictable.html They're incredibly rare LOL
September 27, 2009
Damn! How could I have forgotten that?
September 24, 2009
I have to hand it to you. You are an encyclopedia on films dealing with taboo subjects such as incest. LMFAO Sometimes I think we are in a race or competition of some sorts to see who can review the most perverse & twisted film out there. If so, I win!! Haha Only kidding. You are just one sick basterd but these reviews are nothing shy of phenomenal. Please grant us more of your party favors. Love ya! ;-)
September 24, 2009
(sniff sniff) that's so touching, bud. I'm just trying to follow your footsteps. LOL ... right back atcha.
September 24, 2009
Following in my footsteps, eh? Aha, you are too much. Love it, love it. I'm immeasurably flattered Woo. ;-)
September 26, 2009
It's a good thing Mackshere isn't here anymore or you guys would get this site closed down permanently!
September 26, 2009
I suppose so. I kinda miss ol' Mackshere though. A friend of mine recently accused me of only writing reviews for pornography & hardcore horror. Hmm, imagine that. It's odd because one of the directorial managers of Lunch asked me if I would help a Wall Street journalist with his report. Supposedly, the staff had selected me & one other individual to help out as the report was time sensitive. I haven't heard anything more on that note since Tuesday but me thinks they've read my reviews for Hustler White & In The Realm Of The Senses. Don't be surprised if my membership is not next in line to be nixed. LOL
September 27, 2009
I got a similar message but it was different. They wanted me to keep my actual 'face' on my profile page because they were trying to promote the site to journalists and since I was mostly in the weekly top 10...so what did you have to do to help them with that report?
September 29, 2009
Ya k now, I never heard anymore to do about it which is fine by me. *Shrugs* I don't mind lending the helping hand & maybe getting some of my work out there but I don't seem to have that kinda luck usually so it's no real biggie. I was going to do an interview with the director Nick Palumbo for my bi-weekly column which the director had agreed to do through the exchange of emails but he's never completed my questionnaire. Meh. What can you do about it, right?
September 19, 2009
Another creepy Asian horror film with an incest theme. A little disturbing Woo, a nice review and all, but I hope that this isn't going to turn into a trend. Sounds a bit like "Psycho", only I'm assuming that the boy doesn't have multiple personalities and that the mother isn't dead.
September 19, 2009
I know what you mean. Asian countries seem to have movies with this kind of themes, I guess this is one of those things that have become a major issue in those countries (which is pretty sad) and this is a way for directors to condemn such action (I hope). This was pretty mild, not as disturbing as those directed by Sono or Miike. I'll try not to make a trend, he-heh. I guess I'm just fearless. ;-)

Have you checked out my review for the winner of the best foreign film award in the Oscars, "Departures"? Maybe you have but didn't comment....
September 19, 2009
You mentioned it before, but I couldn't find it. Send me the link and I will give it a read right away.
September 19, 2009
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William ()
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