Netflix review: Pinoys may want to watch Korean horror flick 'Metamorphosis' for Manila scenes, local actors

Fred Hawson

Posted at Aug 28 2020 06:04 AM

A scene from 'Metamorphosis'

Middle-age married couple Gang-gu (Sung Dong-Il) and Myung-iu (Jang Young-Nam) have three children: two teenage girls Seon-u (Kim Hye-Jun) and Hyeon-ju (Cho Yi-Hyun) and the youngest son U-jong (Kim Kang-Hoon). When they moved into a new house in the suburbs, it was not long when when one member of the family would be terrorized by another family member who was acting very strangely and violently. Fearing demonic possession, the panicking family called on their Uncle Jung-su (Bae Sung-Woo), Gang-goo's brother who was a Catholic priest and an exorcist.

The first Korean film about Catholic exorcism rites that I watched was called "The Divine Fury" which was just last year. "Metamorphosis" was another exorcism film with a twist. It actually opened with a particularly grisly exorcism scene conducted by a young priest exorcist that ended badly for the possessed girl. The mayhem of these opening scenes would set the stage for the level of blood, gore and violence for the rest of the film. The make-up and special effects were all trying to go beyond the standards for such films set by "The Exorcist" in 1973.

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I think I have may have watched enough Korean drama series now to be able to recognize some members of the cast. The father was played by Sung Dong-il, who also played one of the fathers in "Reply 1988." The mother was played by Jang Young-nam who was just recently seen as the head nurse in "It's Okay Not to Be Okay." The elder daughter was played by Kim Hye-jun, who was a terrifying queen in the zombie series "Kingdom." The youngest son was played by kid actor Kim Kang-hoon, who gave an award-winning performance for his scene-stealing portrayal as Pil-gu in "When the Camellia Blooms."

Viewers from the Philippines will get excited to see some scenes shot in the historic San Agustin Church in Manila featuring Filipino actors. Bing Pimentel was the nun who handed the Korean exorcist Fr. Balthazar (Baek Yun-shik) the mobile phone in the courtyard. In the table discussion scene in the church, Ronnie Henares was the exorcist with a chopped-off hand, while Joel Saracho was the priest who argued with him. The priests played by Archie Adamos, Jef Flores and Nico Locco had no lines to say, but as auxillaries of Fr. Balthazar, Flores and Locco still got to fly to Korea for a couple more scenes (still wordless) there.

The scene when the father went into their neighbor's house and saw an array of dissected animal carcasses was a an over-the-top visual shock display of guts and gore. That whole sequence of that night where the parents were assaulting their daughters with a hammer was the most suspenseful part, with the build-up of unbearable tension in those scenes very well-done. However, the oddly lackluster performance of Bae Sung-woo in the critical role of the guilt-ridden priest and reluctant exorcist Fr. Park Jung-su made all his scenes (even the final confrontation) feel awkward and anti-climactic.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."