Using the supernatural to make social comments (through metaphor or not) is a tactic that has been used many times in world cinema, with films like "Get Out", "American Psycho" or even "The People Under the Stairs" implementing this approach in the most brilliant fashion. "Abyss: The Girl's Eyes" is Jang Hyeon-sang's effort in the category, with him, however, not managing to stay away from some local trends, like the crime thriller element and the concept of the "exorcism". On the other hand, his approach is unique, so no harm done, at least in that aspect.
The story revolves around Hyeon-ji, a hip young woman who works in a fashion firm. Apart from a subtle romance with a female colleague, her life is pretty ordinary, at least on the surface. Because underneath all this normality lurks a hereditary ability she has gotten from her mother: the power to send dreams to other people. As a number of ritualistic murders start taking place, targeting people with similar abilities, the presence of a cult comes to the fore, along with Hyeon-ji's past, with the two eventually colliding, along with time, space, and fantasy. As the protagonists sends a dream in order to save her younger self, her past is also revealed and danger seems to be lurking everywhere.
To get back to the prologue, Jang Hyeon-sang directs a film that uses the supernatural in order to make a comment about human nature, and particularly of women who are trying to break away from their fates, as dictated by their families and their past.
This comment however, eventually gets lost in the rather complicated narrative, which takes a turn towards the delirious as soon as Hyeon-ji's life as a child becomes part of it, and particularly when past and present collide. This does not mean that the movie is not good, just that it kind of fails to communicate its social comment. On the other hand, as a supernatural crime thriller it works quite well, with the ritualistic approach that finds its apogee in the scenes with the exorcism and the violent ones, being the highlight of this trait. This aspect benefits the most by Jang Hyeon-sang's cinematography, who uses the juxtaposition of white and red to present a number of images that are beautiful as they are ominously impressive
Kim Ji-hoon's editing succeeds in retaining the disorientation between dream and reality and past and future, but the reality is that the film after a point becomes somewhat difficult to follow, although Jang's directions is also to blame.
Lee Yoo-ha is quite good in the protagonist role, acting convincingly as both a hip young girl and an entity with supernatural abilities, particularly in the measured way she manages to convey her feelings of growing discomfort. Lee Geum-ju makes a great villain, with the scene near the finale being the highlight of her performance.
"Abyss: The Girl's Eyes" is a film with many merits, particularly in the visual department, most of which get somewhat lost in the overcomplicated narrative, however.
Review by Panos Kotzathanasis
Panos Kotzathanasis is a film critic and reviewer specialising in East Asian Cinema. He is the founder of Asian Film Vault, administrator of Asian Movie Pulse and also writes for Taste of Cinema, Eastern Kicks, China Policy Institute and Filmboy. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Panos Kotzathanasis can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[Hancinema Film Review] "Abyss: The Girl's Eyes""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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