A woman subject to mental, physical and sexual abuse on a remote island seeks a way out.A woman subject to mental, physical and sexual abuse on a remote island seeks a way out.A woman subject to mental, physical and sexual abuse on a remote island seeks a way out.
Hae-Won is a beautiful young woman living the city life in Seoul. After a particularly bad day it is 'suggested' that she take some leave to recharge her batteries and regain some perspective. This break sees her leave the mainland for the aforementioned Moo-Do island – her childhood home – and a place seemingly unchanged since her departure at a young age.
Inertia isn't always a good thing, but initially this is a boon for Hae-Won, her trendy haircut, high heels and pale skin (not darkened by spending countless hours working outdoors) make her a minor celeb to the small number of residents still living on the island. While none of this small number are her direct family Hae-Won tentatively bonds with Bok-Nam, whom she recalls vaguely from her childhood, and Bok-Nam's young pre-teen daughter Yeon-Hee finds Hae-Won fascinating, having not seen anyone quite like her.
Right. Fun's over folks. Be under no delusion. This is NOT a happy film, and I have seen nothing like it for a very long time Moo-Do island is a serene and beautiful locale, remote, sparsely populated and peaceful. However there remains a distinct caste system that harks back to the dark ages.
On Moo-Do island women inhabit the very bottom rung of the totem pole, this is not a nasty secret but essentially common knowledge. They work harder and are given the most thankless tasks, are treated with nary a modicum of respect or even common decency, and where 'release' is concerned they are expected to be prepared and willing at all times.
It seems the women understand that it is what it is, especially the older women who no doubt had to deal with it during their younger years, but the problem is that with only a single digit population there are only two females who appear to be under 50, Bok-Nam and her daughter.
Hae-Won knows nothing of this initially, and she is bemused but ultimately a little annoyed by the cloying attention of Bok-Nam in the days following her arrival. Gradually though they both come to realise how the other truly lives Unfortunately we the viewers are granted a far clearer and more depressing picture of what Bok-Nam deals with on the day to day, to label the local male population as South Korean rednecks might just be a disservice to regular rednecks. In fact I wondered for a while if the only truly apt description might just be the one word I have refrained from using on this site. I might also point out that some of the older women are hardly better examples of humanity, one in particular is especially vile and loathsome, with her continued verbal beatdowns of Bok-Nam becoming worse by the day.
But back to the island of don't ask, don't tell. The looming cloud of inevitability closes in on the two childhood friends, with Bok-Nam seeing Hae-Won as a potential saviour, but Hae-Won rapidly realising that she might just need to be equally concerned for herself.
And as horrible as this all is it gets worse when they go and start implying that the young girl Yeon-Hee is at risk.
While I have seen some repugnant and disturbing behaviour on film in my many decades of devouring cinema, I can't recall another occasion where I have been so disgusted and bothered by the actions of fictional characters. The equally depressing fact is that this queasiness and unease is a direct result of the plausibility of the film, meaning the film is effective and well made. (I hardly fluttered an eyelid at the ridiculous crap that plays out in the Hostel films and their ilk.) The key to a good revenge film is making sure that there is something worthy of (usually violent) reprisal. All I can say is that there have been precious few revenge films with reasons as valid and 'worthy' as this one. Might I also say that there haven't been many films where the acts of revenge more than made up for the transgressions. There is a long and deliberate 'sharpening' scene that acts as a prelude to the payoff that is one of bloodiest I can recall, yet for a while I actually shared the blood-lust ('Yeah, now get that one next!'). At least in principal.
But as with every good freak-out the danger is that things can go too far, and that is indeed the case here near the conclusion of the film, let's just say I never thought the phrase 'Put some bean paste on it' could mean something so very extreme.
Bedevilled is one of the more legitimately disturbing films that I have ever seen, and I am not just referring to the graphic violence. It unfolds gradually and the sheer scope of the situation is allowed to seep into your consciousness before you suddenly become aware that there can only be one way that this film will – no MUST – end. Unlike your Saw films and even more traditional revenge flicks like Death Sentence the violence is less sick than it is sad, mainly because in the real world you really hope that there are no places where such subjugation and blatant mistreatment of people exist, though the whole while knowing full well that they most certainly do.
Final Rating – 7.5 / 10. This film will definitely not make your day enjoyable, but it might open your eyes a little to the fact that you haven't got it that bad.
- Apr 20, 2012