Zombie movies are scarce in the world of South Korean film, perhaps because domestic film budgets can’t compare to those in Hollywood. Then again, it may simply reflect the preference of moviegoers here.
“The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale,” Lee Min-jae’s directorial debut, takes a rare path as a horror-comedy that draws laughs by focusing on the absurdity of the situation.
“Most zombie films would start with a (zombie) virus spreading from a populated area, but (“The Odd Family”) is a story about a family living in a rural town who would not even recognize a zombie,” said Jung Ga-ram, who plays the zombie who just happens to bump into this very strange family.
“The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale” (Megabox Plus M)
Lee said his movie can be summed up as “what happens after an ‘unidentified’ man suddenly appears in a quiet countryside and meets unique people.”
From the get-go, the director said his focus was to make a movie that was funny, and veteran actors Jung Jae-young and Kim Nam-gil said that’s exactly why they took on the project.
“The situation (of the film) was just brilliant. I personally love zombie films, but there aren’t that many in Korea. ... Other people may have noticed too, but the story was just brilliant,” said Jung.
Uhm Ji-won, one of the more recognizable faces on the screen, shed her sassy, urbane image and went for a more grounded look.
The patriarch in a Korea film is usually very stoic, but Park In-hwan’s character is the troublemaker in this one. He described his character as a “shameless” man who plays pranks even on his own family.
Actress Lee Soo-kyung’s character ends up in an unusual romance -- with the zombie, of all people.
Zombie comedy is nothing new in the West, finding great popularity with Edgar Wright’s “Shaun of the Living Dead” from 2004. But few Korean directors have toyed with the subject of zombies in Korea.
It is only after the smash hit “Train to Busan” in 2016 that Korean zombie films began to get a reputation at all, with previous attempts mostly limited to short films.
A few Korean films have attempted to mix comedy with elements of the supernatural -- for example, the “Detective K” series, starring Kim Myung-min and Oh Dal-soo, which garnered modest success and earned three theatrical releases.
“The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale” opens in local theaters on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.
By Yoon Min-sik