They’re waiting for you.
A cab driver (Myeong-min Kim) moves into a small apartment, only to discover that the former owner died under unusual circumstances. His neighbors include a failed publisher, a young woman dealing with loss, and an abused wife (Jin-Young Jang), with whom he starts an intense relationship. Before long, a crucial decision is made, secrets are revealed, and something mysterious is found lurking in the shadows.
Take a look at the packaging here. See that image, with the baby’s hand holding the woman’s finger, and blood oozing out between them? It’s pretty creepy, huh? You might think that this is one scary movie, filled with all kinds of gloomy atmosphere and twisted imagery. But no. What we’ve got instead is a moody relationship drama with mere hints of suspense or horror.
This is a very…slow…moving…film. Characters sit around their apartments smoking cigarettes, talking about how hard their lives are. Or they’re having dinner in some run-down diner, munching away on dumplings, talking about their sad pasts. They walk around the absolutely filthy apartment building at a glacial pace, ruminating about various miseries with long, long pauses between each line of dialogue. A handful of times, the light dims and it appears that something scary might be about to happen. But these moments soon give way to more maudlin acting.
The supernatural and horror aspects of the film are kind of like Boba Fett’s role in The Empire Strikes Back. He’s a lot of fun and you look forward to his scenes, but the movie’s not really about him. So if this ghost story isn’t really about the ghost, just what movie are we watching? Sorum is really an examination of the working class, and how rough they’ve got it. An abused wife must go to extreme lengths to turn her life around. The failed publisher sits in a room filled with his old books, hoping to someday reclaim his glory days with an unfinished novel. In one early scene, there’s a shot where two characters are at the bottom of the screen, surrounded by the garbage and filth of the poor part of town, while in the background stands a gleaming white skyscraper. It’s the classic “haves versus have-nots” image, and it sums up the film better than any spooky stuff.
Actress Jin-Young Jang drew rave reviews for her performance here. Some of her scenes are excellent, especially later in the film when her relationship with Myeong-min Kim’s character deteriorates. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in so many crappy action movies, a few key scenes do not a good movie make. Yes, some moments are standouts, but the rest of the movie has a “going nowhere” feel to it.
The DTS and Dolby 5.1 tracks here are excellent, especially during the many rainy scenes, in which the rain sounds like it really is filling your living room. Again, the packaging is misleading because it doesn’t mention the fact that there’s also a 2.0 track. This one isn’t nearly as good as the others, as the aforementioned rain sounds flat and tinny. The picture quality is mixed. It’s good in some places, but the black levels often appear grey or splotchy.
As a creepy ghost story, Sorum falls short. As a melancholy drama about the low income life, it also falls short.