A skeptical husband goes against his superstitious wife’s wishes and finds himself in a downward spiral of tragedy in this brooding Korean chiller.
Directed by Kang Park
At what point does a series of what are perhaps coincidences begin to turn a skeptical person into one who begins to wonder if superstitions may have real effects? And can a person become emotionally or psychologically fragile enough to turn superstitious beliefs into self-fulfilling prophecies? These are two of the questions that writer/director Kang Park explores in his debut feature film Seire (South Korea, 2022).
Seire, also known as samchil-il, is a 21-day traditional period in South Korea in which a newborn baby and his or her mother are confined, with what some may call tradition and others may see as superstition observed. Diet is strictly regulated, ropes are hung over doors, visits are restricted to close family members only, and family members should avoid anything that might bring bad luck to the baby.
Jin Woo-Jin (Seo Hyun-Woo) ignores the wishes of his superstitious wife Hae-Mi (Sim Eun-Woo) and breaks a taboo by attending the funeral of his ex-girlfriend Se-young, where he meets her identical twin Ye-Young (Ryu Abel) for the first time. When the couple’s baby I-Su begins having medical problems, Hae-Mi demands that Woo-jin perform dangerous tasks to rid the baby of a curse she believes is brought on because of his attendance at the funeral.
Park’s film is a slow burner, though a sense of dread permeates the proceedings from the beginning. It also plays with supernatural elements, leaving it to viewers to decide what might really be happening.
It’s not easy to get invested in the characters of either Woo-Jin or Hae-Mi, as he comes across as a feckless sort and she comes across as a superstitious nag. With no one to truly root for, Seire becomes pretty much a story to follow to see where it ends up, and in that respect, Park pulls things off well. He also trades quite effectively in ambiguity regarding whether breaking superstition taboos are bringing tragedy to those close to Woo-Jin, with the husband losing his grip on what is and what might not be real.
Review by Joseph Perry
Serie screens as part of London Korean Film Festival, which takes place in London, U.K. from November 3–17, 2022. For more information, visithttps://www.koreanfilm.co.uk/.