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Directed by: Kwang-bin Kim.

Starring: Jung-woo Ha, Yool Heo, Nam-gil Kim, and Si-ah Kim.

THE CLOSET is the feature film debut from South Korean writer-director Kwang-bin Kim. Starring Jung-Woo Ha & Yool Heoas the duo leads, this engaging horror tale introduces us to Sang Won (Jung-Woo Ha), a recently widowed single father trying to raise his young daughter Yi Na (Yool Heo). After his wife's death in a car accident, Sang moves himself and Yi Na to a large country estate in the hopes that it will break his daughter out of her melancholy. However, once there, Yi Na's personality changes from that of a somber little girl, still mourning the death of her mother, to a smiling sadistic child who disrespects her father and torments small animals.

To make matters worse, following a disastrous incident with a day nanny, Yi Na disappears, forcing an already stressed Sang - trying to balance his duties as a father and his career as an architect - to launch a national campaign to find Yi Na. Though all hope at first glance seems lost, a man named Hoon (Nam-gal Kim) arrives at Sang's doorstep to inform him that Yi Na has been taken into the underworld by an angry spirit. More specifically, upon doing some investigative research, Sang and Hoon learn that the spirit is the ghost of a little girl named Myung-Jin (Si-ah Kim) - who, as a little girl, had been locked in a closet by her abusive father. As a result of tragically dying in that closet, her ghost now appears in closets throughout South Korea to abduct abused and unwanted children. Armed with this information, Sang and Hoon try to find a way - through Yi Ma's closet - to rescue her and bring her back to the living world.

As someone who has been a fan of the Asian horror scene since the early 2000's (see movies like THE GRUDGE, RINGU, and THE PHONE), it's always exciting to be provided a window - through the lens of a foreign filmmaker - into other cultures & how horror sensibilities are weaved into them. That said, THE CLOSET is undoubtedly no exception. Kwang-bin Kim offers an unflinching depiction of the lives of abused and neglected children and how they are vulnerable to dark influences. At the same time, Kwang-bin Kim's film style wonderfully sets the tone for the film with his effective use of shadows and colors to draw the viewer in - injected a great amount of dread into each scene.

The real gems of this movie though are it's younger talents. Yool Heo and Si-ah Kim both carry this movie to new heights. Yool is brilliant and shows a mature talent in her performance; especially in one scene, when she becomes enraged at her father for seemingly trying to pay off her cooperation with more dolls when all she really wants is to know she is wanted and loved. Similarly, Si-ah's performance as the ghost-child, Myung-Jin, is beautifully heartbreaking; particularly, in the scene where we are provided with her character's backstory. Both young actresses are again very convincing and compelling in this film. Finally, there's Nam-gi Kim as Hoon. Best known for horror comedies such as ZOMBIE FOR SALE, Nam-gi plays Hoon as one-part con-artist, one part wise man, such as his first encounter with Sang - pretending to be his internet repair technician, yet who is later forced to admit his true intentions.

I've gone on a little long, but I can't brag enough about this movie! If you're a fan of horror or Asian cinema, then THE CLOSET is a real treat for you.

Overall rating: A+


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