A-Z Daily Throwback Review: H (2002)


            So much time is spent worrying about remaking Asian horror movies in Hollywood, but hardly ever in another genre. Perhaps this is because they are doing the same with the genres Hollywood has already exasperated. The thriller H has many qualities which could have been taken directly from Se7en and Silence of the Lambs, and they don’t seem ashamed about this either. Even the DVD cover says in large letters, “Se7en meets Silence of the Lambs”. However, this fact cannot be held against the film too much considering it has been years since a thriller as good as those two was released from Hollywood or elsewhere. H is definitely not the film which will reach the same level as those films, but aside from a rather silly ending it manages to pull its own weight for most of the film.


            Detective Kim and Kang are on the case of a series of grisly murders beginning with the murders of pregnant women and moving on to other victims. The unique element of the murders is that they are exactly like the ones committed by a killer who now rots in jail. This killer, Shin Hynn, confessed to his murders after driving the cop on the case to suicide. Now all signs point to him although he is behind bars. As the horrific murders continue, even as they think they may have already caught the killer, Kim and Kang begin to despair, realizing that it is likely Shin Hynn is responsible.


            There are all of the necessary elements in H to make it mesmerizing in the disgusting way that only thrillers can manage. Even though we don’t see many of the murders they manage to be graphic in a way that few films have managed before. It seems that new ideas must be born to make these films work, and H has created an awful idea involving a pregnant woman.


            Aside from the gruesome elements, there are also some very good chase sequences in the film, one of which over a rooftop, very much reminiscent of the chase in Se7en. These chases are where the film succeeds the most, able to use the camera work in a way that fuels the energy of the film while looking really good at the same time. Where the film fails is in the prison questioning Shin Hynn. He is not nearly as menacing as he could have been, mostly because he is exposed from the very beginning.


            The acting in this film is good, but most credit goes to the two detectives, Yeom Jeong-a and Jee Jin-hee. They manage to pull the weight of the film playing opposites that work off of each other. Jeong-a is almost too deadpan throughout the film, but it is balanced by Jin-hee’s looser approach.


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