Jeong-woo (played by Kim Sung-soo) is a male surgeon. Yoo-kyeong (played by Han Go-eun) is his surgeon girlfriend. Neither of them are terribly bright. I mean, obviously they have medical expertise. But Jeong-woo is really bad at keeping secrets. And Yoo-kyeong has a rather unhealthy fascination with dark holes. The entirity of "Black Hand" is a mystery as we try to guess which of these two apparently dumb people has masterminded the film's atmosphere of shock horror.
Well, I guess technically there are also other characters who are suspicious in their own way. Let's be honest, though. These people have so little screen time that they could only ever possibly be subordinate or even irrelevant to the actual main storyline. Which is in itself kind of irrelevant. If you have any interest in "Black Hand" it's mostly likely because you want to see a horror movie that takes place in a medical environment and involves lots of gory dismemberment.
No worries on that front- "Black Hand" delivers. Director Park Jae-sik manages the usual good scary tension here. There are actually relatively few scenes where we see anything directly scary. It's just jump scares, offhand gory blood, hands behaving in ways they should not behave, Jeong-woo and Yoo-kyeong using their general lack of intelligence to drag themselves into frightening situations. In other words, the kind of stuff that makes you want to turn away from the screen and into the comforting embrace of a significant other. Nothing too inventive, but classic genre staples are classic genres staples for good reason.
For you more pretentious horror fans I'm afraid there's not very much here to fall back on. The actual story really is just a whodunnit except without the it part. This rather unsurprisingly makes the mystery nearly impossible to solve, since the final denouement involves the use of magical science that mostly comes out of nowhere, even if it does technically explain some of the weird stuff that's happened without rendering the story too ridiculous.
As for characters, well, I'm really not being facetious when I write that Jeong-woo and Yoo-kyeong are smart people who are kind of dumb. The other characters are just smart people who aren't quite as dumb, whose motivations are typically rather unconvincing. This is more because of a lack of proper focus and screentime than it is a real problem with the script. By design mysteries are supposed to obscure information. Although the fact that we don't know what the crime even was until the end of the story, again, makes that kind of hard.
Everything about the overall production of "Black Hand" is done decently enough. It's another possibly nice little ditty to watch for easygoing groups of friends who like to talk during the movie, given that very little that happens in the story is all that important. Although even in that circumstance I must insist that you turn off the lights. It would be a shame to let the occassional moment of classic horror go to waste, after all.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Black Hand""
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