(a.k.a. CHOYONGHAN KAJOK)
Tae-gu (In-hwan Park, SEX OF MAGIC) is head of the Kang family.
He buys a rural mountain lodge, the Misty Inn, in the dream of renovating it in time for the summer and cashing in on the many ramblers who pass through the nearby forest.
The rest of Kang's family - his wife (Mun-hee Na, JUST DO IT!), son Yeong-min (Kang-ho Song, SYMPATHY FOR MRS VENGEANCE), daughters Mi-na (Ho-kyung Go, REVERSAL OF FORTUNE) and Mi-su (Yun-seong Lee (SEX OF MAGIC), and uncle Chang-ku (Min-sik Choi, OLDBOY) - join him, and pitch in with the work needed.
Once the inn is ready for guests, the family becomes disheartened when no-one turns up asking for a room.
The family unit intensifies under the strain, with dinner-times becoming particularly fraught - the family eat in silence, even when Tae-gu leaves the table temporarily to kick the dog for no reason.
All that changes, however, when the family are sat outside round an open fire one evening and a man approaches, looking for lodgings for the night.
The family are delighted to get their first customer ... that is, until the next morning when they discover him dead in his bed!
When the tenant's wallet goes missing, the Kangs deduce that the cops will suspect foul play - and so decide to bury the corpse in the forest.
The following evening, things go from bad to worse when Mrs Kang books a passing couple into the inn.
The lovers, it seems, have made a suicide pact together and by the time dawn cracks they too are lying dead under their duvet!
Disbelieving of their luck, the Kangs resign themselves to burying the lovers. Even if it means smashing one of them in the skull with a shovel when they turn out to be not quite as dead as they first appeared ...
Before long, the Kangs have managed to shake off their disturbing secret and business is picking up.
But then a passing hiker tries to rape Mi-su ... a curious cop appears searching for missing travellers ... and the local land-owner announces plans to build a by-pass through the forest - meaning a few shallow graves are bound to get dug up along the way ...!
THE QUIET FAMILY is a hugely enjoyable, extremely entertaining film that perfectly straddles that awkward tightrope between humour and horror.
It's certainly a lot quicker in it's pace than most Asian cinema, and it's the way the simple plot is allowed to accelerate without excess padding that makes it so watchable.
The performances are universally strong, as is the script's attention to quirky character details and plausible reactions to extraordinary events. The family bickering about how to bury a corpse, for example - amusing and probably very accurate to how it would be ...
The movie is directed by Ji-woon Kim (A BITTERSWEET LIFE; A TALE OF TWO SISTERS) and doesn't betray his reputation for atmosphere and violence - despite the 15 rating, there's a fair amount of splatter to be enjoyed here!
The best thing about the movie though - even better than the coloured lighting, the off-the-wall decor of the inn's interiors, the crisp editing and brilliantly unexpected Rockabilly-style soundtrack - is the photography. THE QUIET FAMILY is visually exquisite.
The only negative thing that can be said is that the plot is very similar to Takashi Miike's better-known THE HAPINNESS OF THE KATAKURIS. But ... THE QUIET FAMILY pre-dates Miike's inferior film by a good three years!!
Tai Seng's 2 disc special edition does this brilliant film the justice it deserves.
Disc 1 presents the film in a rich, sharp anamorphic transfer (1.85:1). The quality is great. Colours are a little faded, but this seems to be the norm for most Asian flicks.
Of the multiple audio choices, I opted for Korean 5.1 - which was nicely balanced, clear and satisfyingly bassy. The removable English subtitles were well written and easy to read.
I did notice the English dubbed 5.1 option had louder dialogue than the Korean alternative, and the dubbing actually wasn't that bad! There's also Chinese subtitles available, but I've, ahem, yet to master the language ...
Both languages are also available in stereo.
The only extra feature on disc 1 is a commentary track from Kim. He chats amiably to a moderator about his praise for the young cast, how certain family members were based on his own relatives, and his dislike for blood ... yes, really!
It's a good listen - or read, even, as it's in Korean with optional English subtitles.
Disc 2 offers a plethora of interesting extras.
The best by far is a 45 minute vampire film directed by Kim, entitled COMING OUT.
Atmospheric, surreal, witty, intelligent and occasionally gory (with really good FX), COMING OUT is the most interesting addition to the bloodsucker cycle in years and infinitely more astute than pretentious shit like TROUBLE EVERY DAY.
Elsewhere we get video interviews with the Kang youngsters, a disappointingly brief 'Making Of' featurette, and the original theatrical trailer.
Clips from the original soundtrack are introduced onscreen by the score's composer, and there's also two music videos for songs from the film. Well, they're actually scenes from the film edited together to the musical accompaniment of the songs ... but they work anyway!
Cast and crew filmographies seem quite comprehensive, rounding out the extra features nicely.
All in all, a really great film that exceeded all expectations - and given the royal treatment in this stunning 2 disc package!
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Tai Seng UK|
|Region All PAL|
|Extras : see main review|