Starring: Song Gang-Ho, Yu Ji-Tae, Kim Gyeong-Ik
Director: Im Pil-Seong
Studio: Enter One
About This DVD
Horror does not always require buckets of blood, gore and the advent of supernatural beings like ghosts. For an explorer to the Antarctic, the bitter cold and vastness of an essentially hostile wilderness covered with snow and ice can evoke a primal fear just as terrifying.
The new movie "Antarctic Journal" is about this type of fear attacking a six-member South Korean expedition as they attempt to reach one of the remotest points in the South Pole. The frozen no-man's place dubbed the Pole of Inaccessibility (P.O.I), at a latitudinal bearing of 82 degrees eight minutes south and a longitudinal 54 degrees 58 minutes east, was conquered only once by a former Soviet expedition in the 1950s.
The team, led by veteran explorer To-hyong (Song Gang-ho) is under pressure to complete their mission within 60 days _ a deadline imposed by the coming sunset. In the Antarctic, the sun only rises and sets once a year. The movie is closer to a psychological play about human fear and man's instinctive thirst for conquest rather than a mystery as its marketing company promotes. However, director-screenwriter Im Pil-seong does lend various elements of the mystery genre to lure a crowd.
We see a member who develops a cold in the South Pole, where influenza virus cannot survive; mysterious deaths; creepy video clips and emergency radio messages sent to the base camp from an unknown sender; and hallucinations. All these strange events happen after Min-jae (Yu Ji-tae), the youngest of the expedition members, acquires an old journal written by a British expedition in 1922. The journal creates a suspenseful atmosphere as it shows that the same mysterious deaths plagued the British team decades earlier.
About half way through, the audience is led to believe the deaths are being caused by some kind of Antarctic curse or by apparitions, partly because of the eyes of a third entity that peeks into the tents of the team and follows them. But this may also be a red herring, paving the way for a generic shift from horror to psychodrama. Min-jae later discovers a sentence in the journal cautioning that, "Our greed made this place a hell," which indicates the dominant theme of the movie.
To-hyong refuses to delay or give up the challenge despite the death or disappearance of group members. As he makes efforts to seal the way for the remaining members to return home, he rapidly begins losing his grip on reality, while remaining faithful to his desire of conquering the P.O.I. We hear the team's deputy chief Yong-min (Park Hee-sun) talk about To-hyong's painful past involving the loss of his son and the subsequent breakdown of his family, but what really drives him to the edge of sanity remains unclear. Part of the movie's problem is the dialogue, often made inaudible by the overlaid blizzard effects.
"Antarctic Journal" has drawn much media attention because of its 8.5 billion won ($8.5 million) budget and location in the South Island of New Zealand. The saving grace of what is essentially a weak screenplay are the memorable performances of all six male characters and the movie's magnificent scenery. The score by Kenji Kawai, best known for his work on Japanese animation "The Ghost in The Shell," beautifully encapsulates the bleak and chilling polar region.
|Audio Format:||DD 5.1 Surround, DTS|
|Video Format:||Widescreen 2.35:1 (Anamorphic)|
|Availability:||No longer available|