Tartan Video presents
"Jin-sung, you must really like trees."- Mi-sook (Shim Hye-jin)
Stars: Shim Hye-Jin, Kim Jin-Geun
Other Stars: Moon Woo-Bin
Director: Park Ki-Hyung
MPAA Rating: R for (violence, some language)
Run Time: 01h:42m:49s
Release Date: 2005-06-28
DVD ReviewWhat is the scariest tree in cinematic history? After much barking, it's a two trunk race between the killer lawn decoration from Poltergeist and the demonically possessed sex offending shrub from The Evil Dead movies. However, there is a late entry among the contestants, a South Korean tree that likes to spin bright red yarn. Intrigued? So was I.
Acacia is a 2003 tale from director Park Ki-hyung, who is also responsible for the acclaimed thriller, Whispering Corridors. Acacia didn't receive the kind of acclaim the latter did, but it is much scarier, with a somewhat open ending that will leave you talking long after the credits have rolled. Add to that a pair of decent performances from child actors (a rare feat, indeed), and you have one of the more interesting South Korean horror entries.
Do-il (Kim Jin-guen) and Mi-sook (Shim Hye-jin) are a happily married couple that are unable to have children. After trying for many years, they adopt a son, Jin-sung (Moon Woo-bin), who seems to have a deep connection with Mi-sook at first, as if longing for a motherly figure. However, his new parents soon realize that Jin-sung's drawings are becoming increasingly strange, and he tends to spend a lot of time outside, talking to a large tree in the yard.
Mi-sook amazingly becomes pregnant and Jin-sung is instantly jealous; after the baby is born, Jin-sung has a fight with his parents and disappears. Do-il and Mi-sook search frantically for him, blaming one another for the boy's disappearance. It soon becomes evident to them that the tree could be part of the mystery.
Acacia is a very creepy picture that deals with some very deep, disturbing subject matter. There's never a dull moment, despite a long-developing first act, which is rare in most other films in the recent rash of Asian horror imports. It's basically split into halves, the first involving Jin-sung's adoption and adaptation to his new parents and later, his sibling; the second half deals with his parents' reaction to his vanishing. These culminate in a genuinely shocking finale edited almost perfectly, keeping the viewer guessing even while the big secrets are revealed. I actually watched the last 15 minutes a second time, there are so many small details to absorb and Ki-hyung directs this final act with a great deal of Surrealist visuals.
The performances are among the best in Asian horror films to date, with Moon Woo-bin performing well beyond his young years, making Jin-sung at once creepy and sympathetic. Jin-guen and Hye-jin do very believable work in roles that require a vast array of emotional outbursts, dealing with some very dark, touchy material. Their scenes with Moon Woo-bin are very good, but it's what they do in the second half as they play against each other that makes their performances stand out.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: This 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is a gorgeous transfer from source material that was in pretty good shape to begin with. There isn't a hint of grain, dirt, or other annoying debris to be found, allowing the great detail of each and every image to be displayed. Acacia is a very dark film and the blacks are deep and rich. The color spectrum isn't very wide, but the hues that are used (especially the extra-sharp reds) are rendered nicely.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: The audio options are Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS, and both are very impressive, with the DTS getting the slight edge thanks to slightly wider dynamic range and a bit more aggressive bass. Both mixes have a nice blend of solid, shocking sound effects, and crisp, clean dialogue, and feature very lively surround activity.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Memento Mori, Koma, Phone, Whispering Corridors, Oldboy, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Park Ki-hyung, production manager Chung Mun-gu, actor Kim Jin-geun
Packaging: Keep Case
- Photo Gallery
There are five featurettes that run over 20 minutes and cover various aspects of the production: Action and Cut, The World in the Movie, About the Director, Cast Interviews, Interview with Director.
A photo gallery and previews for other Tartan Asia Extreme DVD releases are also available.
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsAs an Asian horror enthusiast, I'm instantly drawn to material like Acacia, but such outings have been somewhat disappointing recently. Director Park Ki-hyung gets it right, though, as he takes an interesting premise and crafts a horrific tale that is at once touching and sad. Tartan Video does a nice job serving the film up with excellent audio and video presentations, and a few interesting supplements.
Chuck Aliaga 2005-12-09