By Alex Sawyer
During a time of over saturated horror sub genres that relied on the same possession story over and over again, the drawn out found footage trend and the tail end of the torture porn era you can say that horror was in a weird place in the early 2010’s. Searching for something new and refreshing for me was so tedious that at times it felt like there was no hope for the genre with only a few diamonds in the rough that didn’t even see a theatrical release I almost wanted to give up the search completely. I’ll never forget the night I watched I Saw The Devil. The movie was dumped on Netflix and late at night, I was mindlessly scrolling page after page for something new to watch. I stumble across this movie and was immediately hooked on how bleak the opening to the film was, and from that point on it will always remain one of my favorite films of all time.
Korean cinema has always been ahead of the game with releases like The Chaser, Thirst, Old Boy, The Host etc. and I Saw The Devil is superior in my opinion. It tells the tale of a man who is tormented by the loss of his pregnant wife that was taken away from him by one of the most blood thirsty killers in Korea. From the first ten minutes your heart is ripped out of your chest and you can truly feel the pain this guy is going through. Pushed to the absolute edge he is forced to face only one feeling, revenge. Now we all know the classic revenge tale is told many times throughout the history of film and is personally one of my favorite sub genres when done right but this film provides something else that not many have done before. You’re faced with the conflict of feeling almost sorry for the films antagonist because he is put through absolute hell throughout this entire movie. Rightfully deserved of course, with sexual assault against women, cannibalism, murder and just being an overall piece of shit human, being you still feel sorry for him at times; though when the reminders are there of his actions and the outcome of his fate is so satisfying you can’t help but crack a smile every time this guy is put through hell.
The camera work and atmosphere alone are worth a watch, there is an incredible scene involving a cab driver and a rotating shot that seems to last a life time ( if you’ve seen this movie you know exactly what I’m talking about) that shows some of the most brutal bloodshed I have ever seen on film. This movie will put you through emotional torture as well as feel like the closest thing to doing steroids at times watching actor Lee Byung-hun deliver one of the best on screen revenges ever.
This film is not for everyone it’s bleak, it’s brutal, and it’s draining, but trust me when I say that this is one of the best films of the last 10 years, if not all time. I can’t recommend this one enough and try to tell as many people as possible about this. It leaves you with a great moment of self-reflection and realization that revenge truly is the most beautiful form of payback.