The Fantasia Int’l Film Festival hits just keep on coming, folks! It was an impressive fest this year with several world and / or regional premieres from all over the world. I feel pretty lucky to have been given access to these fest films. So… you know – yay for me. Anyway, this is my review for House of the Disappeared. (pretty good intro, huh?)
Mi-Hee (Yunjin Kim) can’t remember everything that happened the night her husband was killed and her son disappeared, but she’s pretty sure she’s not responsible. That’s not enough to keep her out of jail though. 25 years later, she returns to her home on parole / under house arrest. She’s determined to confront the inexplicable, ghost-like people who she blames for that fated night. All of the creepy supernatural shenanigans seem to come from the door-to-nowhere in the basement. She would be perfectly happy to tackle this on her own, but one particularly determined priest wants to help her. He doesn’t believe her story really, but that may change the more time he spends in the house. The house… of the disappeared!
That’s a flip synopsis, but only because I can’t help being hilarious. The film is actually quite good. Yunjin Kim puts in a rock solid performance as the distraught mother whose sanity may be in question. And the aging effects are impressive. The “seams” never show as they do in so many other films. We see old Mi-Hee stalking around her decrepit house wild-eyed and wary and young Mi-Hee in her nice home dealing with domestic strife and heartache, and we never lose our connection with her despite the years. Seamless makeup is no trivial detail. Staying immersed is important. Especially in a story like this. Viewers aren’t sure if we believe Mi-Hee but we know something is going on. Is it in her head? Not knowing for sure makes for an intense experience. And the payoff is so complex that it is sure to surprise even the most diehard genre fans. The film isn’t perfect. There are scenes of research and investigation done outside of the house by the priest that lag a bit. And the complex ending ties up loose ends that the viewer wasn’t even aware of, which may throw some off. But those issues are fairly minor and worth the patience for fans of twisty supernatural thrillers.
The Final Cut: House of the Disappeared is a solid supernatural thriller with moments of high tension and head-spinner of a conclusion.