the sin - han dong-seok


Article by Emidio Sciamanna

Translation by Francesca Borgheresi

Lurking in the shadows of a social pessimism and often embodied by the human values of science and justice, the search for rationality takes the ruthless and tragic shape of a great evil, which is a demon that feeds itself with collective discrimination and mutual hate. The second full-length film by Han Dong-seok, The Sin, presented in the category “Crazies” of the 41st edition of Torino Film Festival, suggests a crazy concept of the original sin, where fear and the obsessive desire of revenge insinuate in the mechanic physicality of multiple moving bodies. 

Si-young (Kim Yoon-hye), as leading actress, is chosen to be the protagonist of an experimental film about dance, under the guidance of a creepy visionary director who makes her perform a shamanic ritual that brings back the dead, without her knowing. Through her dance moves, an inevitable and lethal cancer spreads indiscriminately in human souls, which are suddenly possessed by a terrifying craziness, representing a dark and nihilist image of society. Everything is built on the purely aesthetic form of the flowing and vital geometries of dancing, to which the rigid and convulsive moves of the walking dead are opposed. And this reveals the fears and the concerns of a community in which contrast and discord come to light.

the sin - han dong-seok

Besides the clear and reiterated attempts at recalling the archetypes of the South Korean zombie movie – which from Train to Busan (2016) onwards established the standards of an independent subgenre with its own characteristics – the film manages to reinvent itself without being inconclusive or repetitive. But in the exact moment in which it seems to settle on a specific storyline, the enigmatic and chameleonic work by Dong-seok changes its nature, shuffling the cards and taking the features of a prismatic polyhedric monster. So, the film becomes an infinite mix of expressions, a chaotic sequence of events which are apparently meaningless, a tangled skein that tries to unravel in the mysterious charm of the unknown, leading to a collective violence, where there’s no room for individuality.

The metamorphosis of the bodies translates into an unbiased bipolarism, where the lines are as unclear as the characters who experience it. Good and evil, life and death, present and past: every element appears terribly vague and incomprehensive, and it’s exactly this lack of certainty which causes a feverish thrill of terror.

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