Written and Directed by Jung Huh this offering appears to be his first ever feature film and Hide and Seek is set against an urban myth of squatters in South Korea who live illegally in homes while the owners are still in them. On top of this myth, is the story of a successful business owner attempting to find his estranged and missing brother.
The movie starts in a derelict section of town, a woman is talking to her boyfriend on her cell phone as she walks home. After almost being mugged, or assaulted, she says that she can no longer live in this neighborhood. As she gets in the lift, a stranger in black motorcycle gear gets on with her and as the young woman warily keeps an eye on the helmeted figure, she goes into her flat.
Shortly after entering the woman discovers that someone has been in her apartment while she was out. She goes to confront her next door neighbor, the person in the helmet, and this mysterious figure shows up and murders the woman in her own home.
The businessman, who owns a coffee shop/restaurant has OCD and despite this little problem, which he takes medication for, he has a normal family with two children and a wife. He receives a phone call saying that his estranged brother has gone missing and once he hears this bit of information his OCD gets worse.
Seong-soo, the businessman, goes to collect his missing brother’s belongings and tries to track him down. The film is a combination of mystery, drama, thriller and horror. The “villain” in the film is terrifying enough to give the audience nightmares. Not because of their appearance but because of the level of their madness.
One viewer felt that Hide and Seek is a reimagining of Dream Home, but there is no basis for this at all. Dream Home, the 2010 Hong Kong horror film about a desperate woman who uses murder as a way to get around the problem of over-expensive real estate, bears no resemblance to this little treat from South Korea.
There are plenty of nail bitting moments in this 107 minute film and as a first effort for the director it does not fail to impress. All the actors convince in their various roles and the subplot of a brother’s guilt about telling a lie and getting his older sibling in trouble just adds to the tension.
The two small children are excellent in the scenes where they are terrified and the two interact very well in others, so much so that they feel like a real brother and sister. Hide and Seek has several film plots and threads running simultaneously and it is to everyone’s credit that the film never gets confusing. Great plot, performances and suspense. There are points where the viewer will be on the edge of their seat.
This is a real 5 star film and well worth the effort of watching even for viewers who may not like subtitled films. Hide and Seek is available on US Netflix at the moment.