Writer Ji-Yoon (played by Lee Si-young) seems to finally be making it as an artist. After signing a contract to put out a webcomic, she quickly rises to the top of the web rankings with her viscerally frightening horror comic. Ji-Yoon's success takes a rather dark turn when it's discovered that her drawings are near perfect replicas of actual crime scene photos and situations. This gives way to a rather bizarre and macabre mystery, as Ji-Yoon and the police race to unravel the reason for her drawings' apparent predictive abilities.
The highlight is, without a doubt, the ultra-stylized transitions between Ji-Yoon's artwork and the actual events pertaining to the crime. I can't really do these sequences justice with mere words. They're simultaneously cartoony and gothic, realistic and vicious, beautiful and horrifying. These images feel like a genuine capture of the blur between memories and reality that must disorient the victims so vividly before the more traditional horror sequences. Director Kim Yong-gyun is to be given high marks for managing this excellent feat.
The traditional horror sequences are good. They're not mind-bendingly awesome, but this is only obvious because "Killer Toon" makes the mistake of frontloading too much of its interesting material. After an incredible art transition piece, anything is going to seem weaker by comparison. Regardless, there's plenty of good, solid, scary stuff for the typical horror fan, and plenty of foreshadowing for anyone more interested in the plot. Just about every event that happens on-screen is essential buildup for the revelations that make up the final act.
Ironically, the final act itself also falls into this trap of steadily feeling like more of a let down. While everything that happens makes sense, and fits with previously established material about the characters, it still feels just a little weak. I'm still not sure I'm fully convinced by the justice of the ending. It felt like I was missing something that would have made ultimate revelations feel a lot more impactful. The main consistent overall thread just seems to be "you can find jerks anywhere".
This is completely appropriate in the context of "Killer Toon", though. Surprisingly, even though I disliked most of the characters (for perfectly obvious and justifiable reasons), I never really noticed this during the actual movie. Fear, as it turns out, is the great equalizer. Everyone feels more like a victim than a perpetrator, even though in actuality they're all a combination of both. I'm still not totally sure how to interpret this theme- but in all honesty, I haven't been thinking about this movie too much at all since seeing it. The idea is there, it just doesn't really grab me.
Of course, the target audience for "Killer Toon" is probably not the introspective type. This is a movie for those who want to be scared, entertained, and challenged with a unique presentation of ideas. In all of these facets, "Killer Toon" succeeds admirably. It could have been a better movie, but why get greedy? "Killer Toon" is cool concept and cool execution, and I would welcome more movies with its sense of innovative visual design.
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] "Killer Toon""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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