It’s nice to see the horror genre represented in the Tribeca Film Festival and one notable entry this year is the Korean thriller “Possessed.” While its foundation is indeed a horror film, it’s built upon a well-crafted police procedural with an abundance of the supernatural and macabre.
The film’s protagonist, Hee-jin, returns to her hometown when her mother informs her that her 13-year-old sister, So-jin, has disappeared. So-jin, hasn’t quite been the same since the recent car accident that killed their father, which she miraculously survived.
In fact, things around the apartment building they live in have been pretty strange of late, what with all the gruesome and bizarre suicides occurring there on a near daily basis.
As with any good horror film, we have a rational, ineffective police detective who dismisses Hee-jin’s theory that other, darker forces are at work behind the suicides and possibly her sister’s disappearance.
Add a religious zealot mother, a creepy female shaman neighbor, a nefarious cabal and some spiritual possession that would make Linda Blair proud and we’ve get an effectively spooky film.
The story unfolds at a deliberate pace that nicely ratchets up the tension when interspersed with an appropriate number of seat-jumping scares. Director and writer Lee Yong-ju has a knack for creating tension and anticipation, though a few of the startling frights are a tad cliché.
Lee Young-ju certainly has a grasp for successfully creating many horror elements that buttress the chilling mood of the film -- his surreal imagery, sparing use of an eerie soundtrack and smart visual style, all hold the film together nicely.
“Possessed” has many clever twists and plot elements that progress the tale, though it could stand some trimming of its narrative gristle. The minor detractions however do not sink the film and horror fans will be pleased as it delivers the ghoulish goods. “Possessed” is a creative and original work that is a nice edition to the Tribeca lineup.
"Possessed" is showing Sunday April 25 and Saturday May 1 at the Tribeca Film Festival