Sunday, 26 May 2013

An Extreme World - I Saw The Devil.

Extremes in horror isn't a new concept. Boundaries have been pushed since horror began. At first it was monster movies, then Romero blew minds with his Night Of the Living Dead during the late 60's. Later the 80's saw the moral panic and the birth of censorship in the home. The BBFC were given more power to control just how much violence was allowed on video. The birth of the internet made it possible for underground extreme cinema to become what it is today. I began to explore extreme cinema at the same time as foreign cinema. They seem to go hand in hand. France, Japan and Korea have given us some of the bloodiest movies in the past decade. A new era of terrifyingly real effects and shocking storylines which hollywood and mainstream audiences could never handle. In celebration of this new wave of extremities I've been watching some of the best examples.

I Saw The Devil - S.Korea.
Director - Kim Jee-Woon
Starring - Byung-Hun Lee, Min-sik Choi

A serial killer, Kyung-Chul has been running around and police are stumped on how to catch him. The sadistic killer makes the mistake of abducting, torturing and murdering Agent Kim Soo-Hyeon's pregnant young wife which sets off events where said Soo-Hyeon goes against his moral codes to seek revenge.

I Saw The Devil is brutal, raw and tragic. The violence is extreme. The blood flows in buckets. No one is safe here. Sexual violence, dismemberments, stabbings and torture are all present. Some scenes are so nasty its hard to keep watching, at the same time you cannot look away. At first the violence feels justified. After all you've just watched this sadistic killer -played by Oldboy's Oh Dae-Su actor, Min-Sik Choi- murder a pregnant woman, dismember her and leave her body for a heartbroken man to find. He doesn't deserve mercy. If it was simple as torturing and killing the man it would have been rather easy to stay on side with the agent but he doesn't. He catches, tortures and releases. Not once, not twice but several times. It's like watching a cat play with a mouse. It becomes cruelty. However, sides do not switch. While Kyung-Chul is running, he still kills. He does not become a victim. Eventually, it's two monsters facing against one another. Neither of them is a hero, they both become villains. It's just a case of deciding who is worse.

Cinematography wise, I saw the Devil is so beautiful it's startling. Such a mean spirited film can come across as attractive to the eye. Everything passes expectation. One scene where the killer stabs 2 men to death inside a car is stunning. As the camera circles the three men you see every reaction, the sound of the knife stabbing into them almost nauseating. The violence, although strong does not come across as over the top or forced. The finale is spectacular. Every time it rocks me.

I Saw The Devil is not for the faint of heart. It's brutal, shocking and nasty. It is very long. Runtime, almost 2 and a half hours but it does not drag or feel long. The pace is quick, barely a moment to breath.

My Rating10/10 


  1. I've actually been meaning to watch this for some time now. A fine review, it definitely motivates me to watch I Saw The Devil sooner than later. :)

    1. You won't regret it! It's a ride and a half!