Film Review: Epitaph 기담 at TKFF

Epitaph 기담 (2007)

Epitaph is a horror film that was screened on the second day of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF) as a part of their double-bill horror night. It’s (mostly) set in a hospital in 1942 Korea although there are some modern-day scenes as well. Epitaph’s plot is about a series of murders which are happening around the hospital and we are viewing it through the recollections of an old doctor who was an intern at the time of the murders.

Side note: I absolutely loved how the volunteers at TKFF dressed up as zombies. It rocked and the makeup artist totally nailed the zombie look. Simply fantastic! Now back to the film review. ^^

I wasn’t expecting much from this film other than to be scared silly – I’m a total wuss when it comes to horror movies and watch them mostly behind my hands. No joke, I’m a total girl about it. But I was completely surprised, I loved it! It was such a beautiful film. Perhaps not for everyone because it’s not flashy but the story and acting were so lovely. I know that’s a strange way to describe a horror film but when I left the cinema, that’s all I could think about… how beautiful it was.

However, if I was describing the film to a friend, I wouldn’t have described it as a horror film. Yes, there were a couple of scary scenes in the film; namely the one scene in the morgue when he was dragged into one of the units and yeah, I covered my eyes a bit there. But I’d say it was more of a psychological thriller but perhaps I’m simply splitting hairs with the definition. There was definitely an element of who-done-it that you don’t see in a lot of horror movies, and the acting was rock solid.

I loved the storyline and how it changed timelines but always let you know which one you were in. Some films that tell a story from different timelines or points of view can be confusing but it was always evident in Epitaph what was happening (and when it was happening), so that even if lots of elements were quite unpredictable, I never felt confused.

Epitaph is a film that I would highly recommend! The twist at the end was unexpected and I loved that I didn’t guess it. Looking back, I should have… there were clues but I was so engrossed in the story, I missed them. I love films that can suck me in to that degree. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a horror film that much!

While I’m admittedly no expert so I can’t explain exactly what it was, there was something about how Epitaph was shot that was very appealing. Everything about the film – from the story to the acting to the slow but steady progression of events – fit together to create probably the first ‘horror movie’ that I would highly recommend. It was simply a beautiful film.

Did you attend “Horror Night” at the Toronto Korean Film Festival? Have you seen Epitaph? What did you think?

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm on the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival. Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher.

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