[Herald Review] ‘Deep Trap’ brings your fears to life

By 원호정

Disturbing and graphic, new thriller is terrifying in realistic depictions

  • Published : Sept 9, 2015 - 17:51
  • Updated : Sept 9, 2015 - 17:56

The new thriller from director Kwon Hyung-jin is interesting in its simplicity. There are basically no twists in the plot, and the terror of the film does not come from surprise moments where things pop out from the darkness. Instead, it builds up a sense of entrapment slowly, almost tediously, and makes it easier for the audience to relate to the protagonists’ desperate situation.

The film is about a young married couple who are struggling to restore their troubled sex life and marriage after a traumatic miscarriage. To take their mind off their troubles, they take off on a trip to a remote island where they visit a restaurant that So-yeon (Kim Min-gyeong) found online.

The restaurant is run by a sinister-looking man named Seong-cheol (Ma Dong-seok) who seems just a tad too kind. Seong-cheol even tells the couple to stay the night, and despite So-yeon’s protests her husband Jun-seok (Jo Han-sun) agrees. That is when Seong-cheol begins to show his true colors, and the young couple find themselves in deep danger.

Watching the film, it is difficult to imagine anyone other than Ma being able to pull the character of Seong-cheol through the film. Although both heavyset and muscular, Ma is known for his easy smile and from his appearances in other films as comic relief. His ability to move effortlessly from menacing to avuncular allows the audience to understand both why Jun-seok chooses to defend Seong-cheol to his wife, and why So-yeon is so frustrated in her efforts to dissuade him.

"Deep Trap" (Daydream Entertainment)

Ma also remains natural through the violent and sexual scenes, which leave very little to the imagination, though he later confessed to press at the media screening that they were difficult to pull off. 

“I had to kill a lot of people for this role, and to make it convincing I had to really feel like it was real,” Ma said. “It was hard to get myself into that mindset.”

Perhaps the greatest weapon that “Deep Trap” wields is the fact that it is so unpredictable. Ma’s Seong-cheol is no ordinary theatrical psycho -- he does not have bizarre and intricate ways of torturing his victims, or a strange way of thinking about things. It is impossible to categorize him into any of the existing villainous stereotypes, and the audience shares Su-yeon and Jun-seok’s nervousness about what turn he will take next. 

Still from "Deep Trap" (Daydream Entertainment)

Director Kwon, for his part, takes his time in moving through the plot, continuously exposing the audience to gore and violence until they are themselves desperate for a denouement that seems nowhere to be found.

The way in which the story ends is almost anticlimactic, but it is also the most convincing -- a result of strokes of luck and mild interventions rather than a dramatic clash of emotions and superhuman action. “Deep Trap” may not be exciting or thrilling in the traditional sense, but its persuasive depiction of crimes that seem plausible in real life makes it one of the more frightening films to hit the box office this year.

"Deep Trap" opens in theaters Thursday.

By Won Ho-jung (hjwon@heraldcorp.com)