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Genius Products presents

Black House (2007)

“I’ve never seen him before. I don’t know why he asked for me.”- Jun-oh (Hwang Jung-Min)

Stars: Hwang Jung-Min
Other Stars: Yu Sun, Kang Shin-Il, Kim Seo-Hyung
Director: Shin Terra

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, disturbing images)
Run Time: 01h:43m:32s
Release Date: 2008-04-22
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

Just when you thought the Asian Horror genre had worn out its welcome, along comes 2007’s Black House. Recently, we’ve not only had to deal with a countless flow of these movies from overseas, but, (and in most cases even worse) we’ve also had to psyche ourselves up to see if the numerous Hollywood remakes of these films can approach the quality of the originals. In most cases, the answer is no, but the new DVD release of South Korea’s Black House allows us to experience something a bit different: an overseas remake of a film that originated, well, overseas (the 1999 Japanese film Kuroi ie is based on the same novel).

Jeon Jun-oh (Hwang Jung-Min) is a nerdy insurance investigator who can’t shake the vivid memory of his brother’s suicide, which he witnessed as a young boy. Jun-oh is still using the tricks of his new trade, one of which being that an agent should not get too close, personally, to his/her clients. When Jun-oh visits the home of Yin Chung-bae (Kang Shin-Il), he finds the man’s stepson hanging from a noose in his bedroom. Jun-oh tells the police what he saw, but at the same time a criminal investigation is taking place, Chung-bae is demanding he be paid the insurance money for the boy’s death. Of course, the insurance company doesn’t want to pay him, and, when Jun-oh finds out that there’s a large policy out on Chung-bae’s wife, Yi-hwa (Yu Sun), he throws his nerdy exterior aside and takes it upon himself to protect her from her husband.

The main deficiency with this picture is its half-hearted attempt to be about four different kinds of films at once. While it turns out to basically be a slasher film, there’s also elements similar to what we’ve seen in the Saw films, a touch of the supernatural, and an at-times gripping mystery. So, since the slasher film has been done to death, torture porn seems to be on its way out, and the supernatural is just never quite done right, this flick never has much of a chance.

Plus, there’s just really nothing creepy about the killer, which is a major flaw. The killer’s only real stand-out quality is their constant limp…ooooh….spooky! Again, while the killer isn’t who we’re led to believe it is, the fact that this person’s identity seems so obvious to us makes the unveiling of the true villain all the more predictable. If you’ve seen the ending of any Asian Horror picture than you already know what’s going to happen here. The mystery elements of the film are arguably the best things it’s got going for it, but the predictable ending renders those moot.

The performances are one of the film’s strong suits, especially that of Hwang Jung-Min. He plays Jun-oh perfectly, giving him a Clark Kent-ian presence and keeping things believable when the script calls for a tougher side to the character. Yu Sun is also quite good as Chung-bae’s wife, but it’s Kang Shin-Il who’s the real standout, giving us a brilliant account of a seemingly dangerous man who just isn’t who or what he appears to be. If only this acting could be bottled up and thrown into a better, more effective story, we might have had one of the more impressive foreign horror efforts out there.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The film shows up in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and it looks very impressive thanks, in large part to highly detailed, sharp images. The colors are also beautifully rendered, with rich hues and no instances of bleeding. Along with deep blacks and well-handled shadow levels, the dirt and grain is kept to a bare minimum.

Image Transfer Grade: A

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio creates an enveloping, spooky experience that does a far better job creeping us out than the story itself. The most effective elements of the track are the ambient sounds and how they creep up on us from each and every speaker. Add some nice bass presence and crisp dialogue to the mix and you have a track that truly delivers.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
10 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The extras include Truth About Psychopaths: The Making of Black House. This 21-minute piece takes an extensive look at the making of the film via cast and crew interviews and on-set footage.

Secret of Black House is a seven-minute featurette that has the folks behind the production design discussing how each set was constructed.

Finishing up the extras are 20 minutes worth of deleted scenes. These, unfortunately, wouldn’t have added much to the muddled story had they been included in the finished film.

Extras Grade: B-

Final Comments

Black House is a rare foreign remake of a foreign film that never really comes together for a myriad of reasons. Some strong acting can’t save the day, despite a valiant effort from all involved. While the movie doesn’t work, the disc is impressive, complete with excellent audio and video, along with a nice batch of extras.

Chuck Aliaga 2008-07-11