June 12, 2018 The Mimic (Movie Review)
Mythology/folklore, or in modern times referred to as urban legends, exists in every culture. Each corner of the planet has their own story to tell, some more frightening than others, and in South Korea there is the tale of “Tiger of Mt. Jang.” A myth based on a ghost that mimics humans, the Jangsan Tiger, was a man-eating creature that roams around Jangsan, a mountain in the city of Busan. The story goes that it lured people by making a sound that resembles a woman’s wail.
A compelling, frightening legend, Writer/Director Huh Jung brings it all to life in his latest film, The Mimic. Jung’s second film, coming after the acclaim of his 2013 film Hide and Seek, The Mimic, originally titled Jang-san-beom, hit South Korean cinema in August of 2017, followed by various other releases in other parts of the world. Now, on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, it finds its way to digital and Blu-ray thanks to Well Go USA Entertainment.
Filmed in South Korea, with dialogue completely in Korean, it opens with a the backstory of a woman being beaten, only to be buried inside a cave by a man with a female accomplice. An ominous visual, the cave is linked to the happenings throughout The Mimic, as many people go “missing” near it, allegedly lured by voices of lost or dead loved ones.
From here, the story follows a woman named Hee-yeon (Jung-ah Yum: A Tale of Two Sisters 2003, The Big Swindle 2004) and her husband Min-ho (Park Hyuk-kwon: Manny 2011, Tunnel 2016). The parents of a young daughter named Joon-hee (Bang Yu-seol: MAD SAD BAD 2014, With or Without You 2016), Hee-yeon is traumatized by the loss of their son Jun-seo, who disappeared 5 years early. A factor that is controlling her life, after she, Min-ho, and his mother Soon-ja (Heo Jin: Sweet Secrets series, The Wailing 2016) move to a new home on the countryside, strange things start to happen.
Wallowing in her own guilt in the loss of her son, Hee-yeon thinks she sees Jun-seo on the street, and then later, discovers a little girl lost in the woods (Shin Rin-ah: The Last Princess 2016, The Return series), triggering even more memories. As mentioned, Hee-yeon cannot seem to move past the loss of Jun-seo, and when this little girl is brought into her life she yearns to take care of her, reflecting her motherly nature to try and project the child. Unfortunately, there begins to be doubt that the girl from the woods is even human. Is she a ghost? Is she an apparition of the mind to soothe Hee-yeon’s guilt? Or, is she something more?
The Mimic certainly raises a lot of questions and all while pulling at the heartstrings of the audience. Feeling more like a Drama than a Horror film, the humanistic side of any viewer cannot help but feel the emotion and sorrow of Hee-yeon, especially those whom are parents themselves. Jung-ah Yum does an exceptional job in reflecting these feelings on screen while Shin Rin-ah is equally as believable as the mysterious little girl.
There is a dreadful, depressed feel that builds in the pit of yourself, but it is not to say the film is not error and filled with scares as well. After all, it is revolved around a ghost folklore. That in mind, there is plenty of tension which builds in certain scenes, and as a director, Huh Jung finds a way to distract the audience enough to catch them off guard for a genuine jumpscare. Succeeding in this aspect, the only real critic of The Mimic could perhaps be the pace, but that of course is based on one’s attention span.
The concept that a ghost could, and would, mimic voices to manipulate a person to get what they want is certainly terrifying. While this is true, Huh Jung manages to take this frightening idea and make it into something metaphorically beautiful and somber at the same time. Furthermore, the back story remains strong throughout the film, as there is a tie between the woman buried in the cave in the beginning and Min-ho’s mother.
Cannot understand Korean? Not to worry, the connection between the opening of the film and the rest is explained through subtitles. That said, beware, the cave has been opened and the spirits have been unleashed! Emotionally driven and a fascinating exhibition of storytelling, CrypticRock gives The Mimic 4 out of 5 stars.