So-yeon (played by Kim Min-kyung-III) has recently suffered through a miscarriage. She grieves in her own way, as does her husband Joon-sik (played by Jo Han-sun). So-yeong comes up with an idea to try and make the pain more bearable- a trip to a nice island villa with a view of the beach. There they meet the owners Seong-cheol (played by Ma Dong-seok) and Min-hee (played by Ji An). Seong-cheol appears to enjoy off-color jokes, and Min-hee suffers in silence. But are they really jokes, or is Seong-cheol...possibly evil..?
With a title like "Deep Trap" the answer to that question shouldn't be too difficult to guess. Although personally I rather liked the part of the movie where this remained ambiguous. Ma Dong-seok is well utilized here as a man who's kind of terrifying, because he's Ma Dong-seok and the dude's built like a tank. You kind of want him to really be joking because this is not a man you want to get on the bad side of. Even his smiles are pretty scary.
Alas, sooner or later "Deep Trap" does turn into a thriller, and that part of the film is uninspired. I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way. A lot of standard thriller tropes became standard thriller tropes because they work consistently and well. And besides, Seong-cheol is not what we would call a terribly calculating villain. For everything else that happens in "Deep Trap" it's pretty clearly implied that what happened with So-yeon and Joon-sik's car was in fact a random accident and not part of some overly complicated evil plan.
Heck, it turns out that Seong-cheol doesn't even really want to kill people. It does happen every so often but more out of necessity than malice. And his actual goal is almost charming in just how base it is. Seong-cheol is a man of limited abilities, and most of them work best in the very manly outdoor environment of his rural home. It's a pity the man never tried posting his ad on kinkier websites- although that would have gotten us a rather different movie.
"Deep Trap" is, on the most basic level, a story about a couple of generally nice people who try to survive the vicissitudes of life only to wind up caught in...a "Deep Trap". So, yeah, this is a movie that wears its heart on its sleeve. If you want to ruminate on the more ambiguous questions of life and temptation you'd probably rather watch "Trap", a movie which also came out last month with the exact same plot but more developed themes. Strangely enough "Deep Trap" actually has more sex even though there's comparatively almost no philosophical discussion of it.
Personally, though, I think if we're going to go the urban legend rout of "middle-of-nowhere rural cottage where freaky stuff happens" movies, I'd rather watch the one where the villain is an actual person rather than just an abstract concept. As a genre film, "Deep Trap" does what it does well. There's not very much deep material to chew on, but so what? Ma Dong-seok himself chews the scenery all right, and that's good enough for me.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Deep Trap""
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