The Human Trap - New Release Review
Director: Lee Moon-Young
Starring: Kang Byeol, Kim Dong-ho, Park Yeon-woo, Kang Seung-hyun
Written by: Lee Moon-Young
Produced by: Jeong Yu-jeong
Cinematography by: Lee Hee Seop, Gang Sok-gu
A camping trip featuring a group of naïve teens turns out to be the weekend from hell when they come into contact with a deranged Doctor and his evil assistant.
It's very rare that a South Korean horror film disappoints and although Lee Moon-Young's debut feature film has some nice twists and turns it struggles with it's tone and takes a little too long to get going.
Hoping to get laid Ki-young invites Ji-ae along for the ride when his friend Jung-ho invites him on a weekend camping trip in the woods. Not wanting him to be a third wheel, Ki-young also invites his co-worker Chae-rim in the hope that she and Jung-ho will also hook up. On their way they bump into a doctor who helps direct them to their destination when their car has issues. Not long after arriving and setting up, the group becomes aware that something may be a little off and a strange man enters their camp. After an alarming chain of events, involving animal traps and missing cell phones, turn their weekend into a trip from hell, the group discover an even more dark and horrible secret about one of them that not only threatens to destroy their entire trip but threatens their actual lives.
There's a lot of good things going on here but I think perhaps one of the big negatives I had about the film is that we are given a major tease very early on about a huge plot point that, for me, didn't elevate the intrigue at all. There are a few more plot twists that happen throughout the course of the film so this revelation isn't necessarily a spoiler for the entire film but I do think it would've been beneficial to keep it until later on in the runtime. There's also too many references to the character of Ji-ae being "strange" and "a freak" which again takes a little bit of sting away from her backstory reveal, which should've felt like a huge moment.
It's well shot and the acting is pretty good. As mentioned above the tone is a weird one. There's not enough humour to make it a dark comedy but it never drifts as far into the other direction either so it lands somewhere in the middle. There's plenty of blood, particularly towards the end, but it just never really feels that any of the characters have earned our sympathy and without giving away spoilers, there's a bit too much going on in the final act too.
Even though the final shot is followed up with a profound fact about missing people in South Korea, 'The Human Trap' is a bit of a mixed bag that never truly knows what it wants to be.
'The Human Trap' premieres on Amazon Prime and other VOD services on January 11th