“I Saw The Devil,” Reviewed

“I Saw The Devil,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at Fantastic Fest 2010.

Violent revenge and its consequences are the preoccupations of a fair amount of the Korean films that make it to our shores, most famously Park Chan-wook’s vengeance trilogy, in which ornate attempts to exact retribution inexorably spiral into despair and self-destruction. The start of “I Saw The Devil” promises more of the sort of story in which a bloody event is followed by an even bloodier reprisal that fails to bring with it closure — saintly, pretty Joo-yeon (Oh San-ha) is brutally murdered and dismembered when she’s left stranded in a remote area by a flat tire. But culprit Kyung-chul (“Oldboy”‘s Choi Min-sik) is identified and caught by Joo-yeon’s devastated fiance Soo-hyun (“A Bittersweet Life”‘s Lee Byung-hun) early on and after that point, the film rumbles off into crazier and far more interesting territory, because Soo-hyun lets Kyung-chul go.

As “I Saw The Devil” proceeds, its fundamental concerns about the nature of revenge become slyly undermined by the nihilistic exuberance of the exorbitant carnage, and by questions of how you can hurt someone who doesn’t care about anything. Soo-hyun, who’s a government agent, plants a tracker in Kyung-chul and follows and catches and hurts him, and then releases him in order to repeat the exercise. Despite the costs, the two become completely consumed with inflicting pain on one another, and we become consumed along with them, because director Kim Ji-woon’s staging of these sequences is so cracklingly energetic. Everyone, the film seems to argue, has got at least a little psychopath in them.

And the world of the film has a lot of psychopaths in it — the epithet “crazy bastard” is thrown around again and again, and accurately describes at least half of the characters that appear on screen. Kyung-chul may be a serial killer filled with rage at the world, but Soo-hyun obviously also has a significant vicious side, and allows Kyung-chul to continued raping and killing just for the pleasure of taking him down once again. Kyung-chul seeks refuge with an old friend whose primary pleasure is cannibalism. A car hijacked by one of the characters turns out, incidentally, to have a man tied up in the trunk. Who in the film isn’t harboring serious dark urges?

09262010_isawthedevil3.jpg“I Saw The Devil”‘s already infamous levels of violence are formidable, not due to the excesses of the splatter as much as the creativity and cover-your-eyes realism of it — someone tries to give a Chelsea smile with his bare hands, for instance, and the camera holds on a man slicing through another’s Achilles tendon. One ingeniously choreographed segment involving a large house, an impaled hand, a shotgun and fish hooks is like the deranged flipside of the meticulous action setpieces from Kim’s previous film, neo-Western “The Good, The Bad, The Weird.” By the finale, your sympathies have slid so that the outcome of the battle is almost incidental — whatever justified revenge set the plot in motion has long ago faded away in the face of the opponents’ luxuriant sadism.

“I Saw The Devil” will be released by Magnolia in 2011.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.