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Tartan Video presents
Sorum (2001)

"Think life's that damn easy? It's the same as that vomit."
- Sun-yeong (Jin-Young Yang)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: November 11, 2005

Stars: Jong-Chan Yun, Myeong-min Kim
Director: Jong-Chan Yun

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (graphic violence, gore)
Run Time: 01h:48m:57s
Release Date: July 26, 2005
UPC: 807839001624
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ B+CA- B-

DVD Review

As the greatest month of the year continues (thanks to Halloween being just around the corner), the discovery of new horror films goes on as well. The recent boom in Asian horror has made such discoveries easier than ever. The latest I've come across is Sorum, a 2001 Korean film that was the directorial debut from director Jong-Chan Yun. This is being marketed as a horror film, but it isn't exactly in the same vein as Ringu or Dark Water.

Thanks to the extremely misleading cover art, I expected to see the latest in a long line of movies about some kind of killer, demonic, possessed baby or child. That is definitely not the case here, as Sorum is actually about a couple who commit heinous acts that are almost identical to events that took place 30 years ago in the same room that they are living in. This isn't an all-out horror film, but there is enough suspense and talk of the supernatural to give the viewer the uneasy feelings that go along with classics of the genre.

Sun-yeong (Jin-Young Yang) drives a taxi cab in Seoul, South Korea, and has just moved into the run-down Migum apartment complex. This place is the epitome of a dump and it is actually on the verge of being torn down, but the rent is dirt cheap, which is all that Sun-yeong can afford. He meets a couple of people in his building, including an aspiring author who is constantly telling him about his what he is currently writing. Sun-yeong also meets a woman, Yong-hyun (Myeong-min Kim), who is being beaten by her husband.

Having had enough of his abuse, Yong-hyun kills her spouse, and Sun-yeong helps her bury the body. The two then began a rapturous affair, which they haven't exactly hidden well from the rest of Migum's tenants. Things get even worse for the pair when they learn of the events that transpired in their room, revolving around a man who lived there before Sun-yeong that killed his wife and child and ran off with the lady who lived next door.

Sorum is a very slow, meticulous film that is powered by the performances of the lead actors, Jin-Young Yang and Myeong-min Kim. They pull off the difficult task of keeping us involved in the first half of the film, which can be a chore at times due to the pacing. Their sex scenes together are daring, yet handled professionally, as these sometimes awkward sequences could have really been botched, especially the way they are depicted here.

Jong-Chan Yun does a solid job behind the camera, creating plenty of dread, and a dark, spooky atmospheric look to the proceedings. He keeps us guessing throughout the film, building up to a wonderfully fulfilling ending that has just enough ambiguity about it to keep our heads spinning. Things were a bit too foggy during Sorum's middle section, and a bit tighter editing would have probably done the trick as far as clearing certain aspects of the story up.

While Sorum doesn't always work, at least its story is unique enough to warrant a few viewings. This is a tough, complex story that is difficult to completely put your arms around with a single viewing. Films that make you heavily contemplate their meanings long after they're over are the best kinds, though, so this is a welcome breath of fresh air in an Asian horror scene that is quickly, and unfortunately, becoming stale.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: We get a non-anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer for Sorum, and these days, it's a real shame when such a recent film isn't enhanced for widescreen TVs on DVD. The extremely dark look of the film is nicely recreated for this disc, with strong black and shadow levels always on display. Colors are well-rendered as well, but there is quite a bit of grain that becomes distracting at times.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Koreanyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Koreanyes
DTSKoreanyes


Audio Transfer Review: There are three audio options here: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0, and DTS. Once again, the ever so slight nod goes to the DTS mix (the DD 2.0 runs a distant third), thanks to a bit more dynamic range and slightly more aggressive bass than the DD 5.1. All three tracks utilize some nice directional effects, which add a great deal to the movie's spookier scenes. The Korean dialogue is always clear also, and is never overcome by any of the other audio elements.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Phone, Tale of Two Sisters, Oldboy, Memento Mori
1 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: There are a few extras that are worth a look, beginning with Making of Sorum, a 35-minute documentary. This piece has director Jong-Chan Yoon discussing the story being told in Sorum, and how it relates to the way that real people act. There's also some very raw on-set footage and interviews with the cast and other crew members.

There's also a photo gallery, a pair of trailers and a TV spot for Sorum, and more trailers, this time for other Tartan Asia Extreme DVD releases.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

I can never get enough of horror flicks in the month of October (or any month, for that matter), but Sorum isn't the straight-up fright picture that most people gravitate to at this time of year. However, giving it a chance (if not a couple of chances) should provide enough scares to make even the most discriminating horror hounds happy. Tartan Video's DVD disappoints in the video department (due to a non-anamorphic transfer), but makes up for it with a DTS audio mix and some nice extra features.

 


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