Friday, July 26, 2019

Fantasia 2019: Door Lock

Like most folks who grew up to love horror films I was once a scared little child. And to deal with one of my most particular terrors as a wee one I used to build these elaborate contraptions, very Mouse Trap like, to warn me if monsters were coming into my bedroom at night. I'd stack books and toys up beside my door so they'd tip over if the door moved, if the knob turned. Waking up to a stranger inside my home is still probably my worst fear -- my boyfriend jokes he's the "monster bait" since I've always insisted, where ever we are, that he sleep between me and the door.

That is to say that Kwon Lee's home invasion flick Door Lock, about a woman who begins to suspect that someone has been sneaking into her home at night as she sleeps, already had a head-start on me -- I was terrified the minute the movie started. But Lee crafts a crackling tense thriller around that basic premise -- having already seen the film he was remaking (Jaume Balagueró's also terrifying Sleep Tight from 2011) I thought I knew what I was in for, but Lee has an entire arsenal of tricks up his movie's skeevy sleeve.

First and foremost Lee spins the film's point of view back to the woman, Kyung-min (a superb Kong Hyo-Jin), who's being stalked -- Sleep Tight felt unique in that it told its story from its stalker's creepy ass perspective, but sometimes the basics are basic for a reason, especially in the hands of a filmmaker this capable of wringing every drop of sweat from them. The small things add up around Kyung-min --  a moved thing here, a headache there, and every single man she comes into contact with being a total freaky weirdo -- until her world's flying apart around her, and the skill with which Lee eases us from sane to insane is an impressive one. 

Door Lock has moments where the puzzle pieces of the mystery that's been built around Kyung-min look several inches apart only to, as if by sudden telepathic force, come snapping into place with terrifying force -- you stutter back in shock as you see what's been standing there, in the dark in the night, right in front of you the entire time. And what else do we go see these movies for? The catharsis of confronting that scared little kid inside of us and shaking them out of their dumb stupor -- the horror genre's sweetest gift that keeps on giving.

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