Film Review: Blind (Beullaindu)

   Not all Asian horror involves lank haired teenage apparitions emerging from various items of technology. Indeed, Ahn Sang-Hoon's Blind is one of the most technically inventive thrillers of recent years and breathes life into a tired genre (in a manner reminiscent to Cold Eyes' excitingly modern spin on police procedurals).

    Kim Ha-neul stars as Min Soo-ah, an aspiring police officer who loses her eyesight (alongside her career and surrogate brother too) in the carnage of a high impact car crash. Yet, despite her loss of vision, Soo-ah is confident of her detective skills and, upon hearing the case of a missing university student, puts her mind to the task of seeking connections between this mystery and the night of her own misfortune.

   Both incidents involved a taxi driver and Soo-ah, despite initial skepticism of the police, believes she has found a perpetrator who links both crimes. We begin to suspect this may be the case when a silent stalker appears, shadowing Soo-ah's every turn as a protracted game of cat and mouse unfolds; Blind is a movie less about unmasking a murderer but, instead, staying safe from him and his relentless pursuit. The tension is ramped up as our hero's lack of vision means she is perpetually unaware of the close presence of a psychotic murderer - we, the audience however, know much more than she does in a classic Hitchcockian set-up set to play on our nerves.

   Soo-ah's lack of vision is at the centre of the film's most thrilling set-piece. Her pursuer is close by and, fearing danger but unable to reach her across a train station, her young friend Gi-seob phones Soo-ah to inform of the pending danger. Panicked and unable to figure out an escape, the pair invent a novel ploy to escape danger (perhaps inspired by classic adventure series Knightmare). Using her phone screen to communicate her current location with Gi-seob, Soo-ah is guided by his voice as he delivers instructions of where to head to escape her pursuer - Ahn's chase sequence provides a truly tense, twenty first century take on the classic slasher movie woman-in-peril scene.

   Aside from technical excellence and an inspired premise, Blind benefits significantly from an excellent lead performance from Kim Ha-neul (which saw the actress rewarded with a Blue Dragon award for her performance). Ultimately, Blind is a highly recommended and refreshing thriller which continues South Korea's hot streak for innovative genre cinema.
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