Sung-Soo and his family live comfortably thanks to his father’s inheritance, but while money can provide one with a comfortable life, there are some comforts that even money can’t provide. This becomes apparent in the Korean thriller Hide and Seek. The fear of the unknown is scary enough on its own, but fear of the unknown in a place with which one is familiar makes it that much more disturbing. When he hears news of his estranged brother, Sung-Soo’s interests are piqued, to the detriment of his family whom he keeps in the dark. As he tries to find out more, strange occurrences continue and danger seems to appear behind every corner. Teetering on the edge of sanity, Sung-Soo does his best to comfort and reassure his family’s safety when he’s not even sure of his own.
From beginning to end, Hide and Seek maintains an off-putting vibe that most thrillers try to achieve, but simply can’t. The movie takes place in two Korean neighborhoods: one rich and the other poor. One particular complex in the poor and more dangerous neighborhood is haunted by rumors of squatters and mysterious disappearances. These plagues don’t seem to affect the people on the wealthy side of town, until an unfortunate meeting causes the two worlds to collide, proving that living far away from danger doesn’t mean it can’t pay a visit.
What makes Hide and Seek so terrifying is that it penetrates the comfort zone every moviegoer is familiar with: the home. Everyday things like children’s attention to detail and motorcycle helmets pose a threat in the film. The terrifying unconventional thriller proves that everyday criminal activity is sinister enough to hold its own for horror-loving audiences. Sometimes truth is scarier than fiction.
This film does an excellent job of tying up loose ends. We are introduced to half a dozen narratives that do not seem to be related throughout, but as the film progresses, they connect beautifully and add depth to the story as well as the characters. Hide and Seek is a well-executed and intense thriller, something we don’t really get to see today with America’s gore-loving-but-horrible-script-ignoring film audiences. It is well-paced and captures the varying levels of paranoia expertly.
The sheer unpredictability of Hide and Seek and its seemingly random occurrences makes it an immensely disturbing film. Though it boasts its share of twists and turns, even the linear narrative that runs through it is hard to prematurely figure out, another sign of a strong thriller.
Hide and Seek leaves viewers uneasy in the way that all good thrillers should. While it’s hard to look at sometimes, it’s always harder to look away.