01st Aug2019

Fantasia 2019: ‘Door Lock’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Kong Hyo-jin, Kim Sung-oh, Kim Ye-won | Written by Park Jeong-hee, Lee Kwon | Directed by Lee Kwon


Back in 2012 I was blown away by Jaume Balagueró’s Sleep Tight, which screened as part of that years Frightfest; and now comes Door Lock, a Korean remake of Balagueró’s film. Although this is a remake in the loosest of terms. For instead of retelling the same story, which Sleep Tight told from the perspective of its protagonist’, Door Lock tells its story from the victim’s point of view… And this victim has issues of her own!

Kyung-min lives a quiet life, seemingly content with the routine her job provides and the safety of her busy apartment complex, until one day, when she begins to suspect that someone tried to break into her home. Given the mounting evidence and an imminent threat to her life, Kyung-min repeatedly seeks help only to be rebuffed at every turn. As the situation turns deadly, she finds she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands.

Korean cinema has become renown in recent years for crafting some of the best thrillers out there – just look at I Saw the Devil for example – and now Door Lock can be added to that burgeoning list. Surprisingly, given that this is touted as a remake of a Spanish horror, this doesn’t feel any other than a Korean thriller. In fact if audiences weren’t told this was a remake I doubt they’d ever realise it actually was. The biggest difference is that change in perspective. Here we know our heroine has a stalker, and we know she’s in danger. This is more of a whodunnit, whereas Balagueró’s film was a why-dunnit. Door Lock also plays up the technological angle more too – hence the title, preying on societies reliance on technology to provide security when we all know ALL technology has its flaws.

Much like its thriller brethren, Door Lock really looks the part. The cinematography by Park Jung-hoon manages to make every inch of this film look creepy – be it daytime or the dark corridors of Kyung-min’s apartment block. The visuals are matched by the ever-oppressive sense of tension and foreboding running through Lee Kwon’s film, which is built-upon by the paranoid performance of leading actress Kong Hyo-Jin which is at once empotionally taught and all too real.

With a strong female lead, a story that plays out like an old-school murder mystery – all mixed with stunning cinematography and a very “Korean thriller” sensibility, Door Lock is easily one of the better horror remakes; and is well worth seeing if you loved the original film – if only to see the story from another angle!

***½ 3.5/5

Door Lock screened at the Fantasia International Film Festival on July 23rd 2019.


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