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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Mother's Island"

2013/08/28 | Permalink

The ghost in this horror drama is a little cliched. Not that there's anything wrong with that- sure, this type of straight-haired, pale-faced, creaky jointed crawling has been done a lot of times already, but there's a reason for that. The effect works. As a family is terrorized on a visit to the rural island where their mother lives, the terror they suffer begs a lot of questions. Such as, why is the ghost brutalizing everyone?

The answer obviously has something to do with the poor state of familial relations. The family's mom (played by Kim Yong-rim) lives alone on the island, doing mud-fishing with her friends, save for the occasional holiday where her family comes to visit. One such visit goes particularly bad- nothing that's the mother's fault. The adult children, who all live on the mainland, are suffering their own problems, and decide to lash out at each other than actually behaving like, well, a family.

This drama special is a little difficult to place narrative-wise. The horror elements are obviously influenced by newer works, yet the overall storyline is...I'm not sure how to describe it. The cynicism of old people? From what we can tell, all the adult children are superficially successful, but their interpersonal relationships are really in the gutter and they seem to have trouble relating even to each other. When their mother goes missing, it doesn't occur to any of them to just ask one of the neighbors what's going on.

Where the narrative suffers is that it's somewhat difficult to tell the relationship between the horror elements and this larger plotline. An important revelation about the ghost is kept secret until almost the end of the story. And while this final movement is pretty effective in its terror, it seems a bit out of focus compared to everything that had happened up until that point. Indeed, most of the earlier scenes take place in broad daylight- a curious choice for a horror story, but perhaps there's some narrative reason for this that I couldn't quite follow.

Overall, though, I'm pretty sure I know what feelings this drama is supposed to convey. Having been terrified and somewhat depressed for around an hour, the viewer is then inspired to just give mom a phone call. Because, come on, she's your mom, and she loves you, and you need to let her know that while she's still around. Don't take family gatherings for granted, and if you can't contain your anger for your own sake, at least do so for her's. Is it a particularly innovative message? Not really- but it's good enough and sweet enough to make this drama special recommendable for horror fans.

Review by William Schwartz

"Drama Special - Mother's Island" is directed by Song Hyeon-wook and written by Yoo Byeong-woo and features Kim Yong-rim, Nam Sung-jin and Yoo Oh-sung.

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