When her pleas for help are ignored and cause her daughter’s death, a woman seeks revenge on the person she blames.
Hae-won is having a bad day. Her financial banker life has become stressful to the point where her coworkers have taken notice. She soon is asked to take a leave of absence so she can get her head together and some needed time away. Hae-won, a 30-something year old women living in Seoul decides that it’s probably a good idea to spend some time away from everything heading to her “roots” island of Moodo (where her grandparents and friend reside).
The way of life there is much more on the primitive end of things as each is responsible for contributing and doing their part to survive. The elders have a much more subjective point of view that favors the men while letting the women “take abuse” and undue suffering. Bok-nam (Yeong-hie Seo) a childhood friend to Hae-won (Seong-won Ji) resides there with her daughter and sadistic husband Man-jong (Jeong-hak Park).
Husband, is a subjective word, usually treating Bok-nam more like a dog than ever showing her any respect. Bok-nam, a unlikable islander has been subjected to a slave-like existence where the local men treat her bad and sexually abuse her as they see fit. It soon becomes apparent that Bok-nam wants to leave with Hae-won to go back to the mainland while taking her daughter Yeon-hee with her. The way of life there has become “too much” for her take and after suspecting that Yeon-hee’s father “might” be sexually abusing her as well, gathers her daughter and prepares to take the next boat out.
The situation only gets worst when Man-jong catches them before they have a chance to leave. The confrontation gets worst when Man-jong knocks Yeon-hee down and causes her to hit her head on rock.
(note: suggested spoilers ahead)
It was clear after about an hour in, where this film was heading, setting a foundation on the familiar territory of a women scorned and subjected to the abuse of a male-dominated setting. The island base provides a deeper cultural setting than some of the more modern women subjection films we have been exposed to (more often these days). While Bok-nam is clearly the victim who is assumed to also be the future antagonist, we are left trying to decide how and when our initial main focal character Hae-won is expected to enter into the picture here. I did expect Hae-won to suffer a bit of humiliation and empowering herself, but interestingly she is not the main story.
“Bedevilled” is blanketed in black humor as a tense thriller that gets pretty gruesome in its 3rd act. This humor is more subjective as we watch Hae-won lose her sanity taking the entire island down with her. There is never point where laughter is appropriate, but rather the ludicrous execution that empowers her to the point being of a manic unstoppable killer. This point is made when she summons the will to grab a knife with her teeth and “still” take down her “had alot coming to him” husband. The pull away of a bean covered body, the implementation of a crude weapon…you have to just let the vengeful purpose carry out the way that director Chul-soo Jang intended. “Bedevilled” approaches anger and revenge in its own way, which in this case is as simple as a moment of clarity that spirals into violence. In the case here, it’s really tragedy and ignorance that pulls the final straw which in many respects is due for this suffered woman.
“Bedevilled” does move thing initially at a slow pace, though this South Korea thriller is indeed worth the wait. It’s island setting is beautifully filmed providing the base for this masterfully executed revenge drama. Bedevilled had an excellent festival run before being released onto bluray per Well Go USA. Director Chul-soo Jang has a clear winner on his hands AND mighty impressive for a first round out. It’s a film that wont be soon forgotten and a recommended dark journey.
Bedevilled is now on bluray per Well Go USA