The Wicked was a wonderfully intense, sadistically satisfying revenge horror film. The atmosphere and continuous unrelenting intensity make for a movie that will stretch your ability to hold back at the jump scares. Well acted all around for the three primary characters, and the switching up of genre from drama, to suspense, to mystery and finally to horror gives The Wicked a unique feel that a lesser movie could never pull off. The slow burn is definitely worth it for the ending which is completely satisfying and has a nice moderate twist, if you can call it that, maybe more of a misdirection. If you’re looking for a good horror movie to really test your limits The Wicked is an excellent choice and made a perfect Halloween night film. – 4/5 (genre)
Make no mistake, The Wicked is a very slow burn and one that will likely drive off a few viewers. But if you can hang on through the more trivial, and somewhat highschoolish clique vibe, you will find a very tense and suspense filled horror movie. I’ll be honest, this was not only a good choice for a Halloween night movie but was refreshing after the string of poor choices in movie watching I’ve made recently.
The Wicked is a Korean suspense, thriller, horror, mystery movie with Se-Young (Park Joo-Hee) as the central focus, who also played a peripheral part in The Silenced. It begins with Se-Young working at her job and being scolded by her boss Lee-Sun (Na Soo-Yoon) for doing shoddy work. There’s a bit of a back and forth as Se-Young promises to do better next time and is told that there isn’t a next time because the project is due at 8 pm that day. Lee-Sun makes some ridiculous wager with Se-Young that she won’t get it done correctly in time, and each promises a finger if they lose.
For most of this first part of the movie (the first 15 to 20 minutes) it really feels a lot like a high school drama playing out as the other employees share horrible rumors they’ve heard about Se-Young, and shameless taunt her. It’s like Mean Girls in an office space with supposed adults, though their actions would seem to prove otherwise. Lee-Sun is especially cruel to her as she makes the suggestion that Se-Young must have some kind of sexual dysfunction to not have a boyfriend, at which Se-Young replies with a comment about Lee-Sun having a boyfriend because she’s skilled at sex. I found it amusing that the rest of the employees thought she was being inappropriate but Lee-Sun wasn’t.
To top off the oddity of the beginning, which is laid out with cheerful almost dancing music (like real dancing not club dancing), Se-Young gets weirdly ominous at the most random of times and becomes very disturbing briefly before suddenly returning to her normal quiet self. There are some times where it becomes difficult to follow as the movie jumps around in time quite a bit, and most of the first half of the movie actually takes place in the first day (before 8 pm), but there are several flashbacks about Se-Young. Once you realize that you are seeing flashbacks giving you back story on her it is a little easier to follow and to spot. One should be forewarned that the this movie is not told in any real linear sense, and that many of the events will happen out of sequence. I actually found this to be a lot of fun though, as we got to see multiple different stories that would all eventually tie together even if only subtly.
The entire atmosphere of the movie changes suddenly from a drama to a suspense/thriller at the end of the day when Se-Young finishes her work correctly and on time. She asks Lee-Sun for the finger she promised, to which Lee-Sun replies that it was just a joke. She says they will discuss it tomorrow and Se-Young replies with “promises made today should be kept today” or there abouts, and is now holding a pair of scissors. Things become tense as Lee-Sun gets away only to find Se-Young outside her apartment after she gets home. I won’t give away much more than this than to say the finger you think is going to be lost is not the one lost.
It was at this tense moment, with Se-Young in Lee-Sun’s apartment that we break away for a long flashback about Se-Young’s sister Se-Min (Lee Mi-So). It seemed everyone loved her and no one loved Se-Young and this drove her to insanity, or possession, or being a witch to get the love she desperately wanted. Despite the cover art, and the very awful tag line, this movie has very little blood and gore and is strong suspense up until this point. After this Lee-Sun begins an investigation into Se-Young’s past and this is where the mystery part comes in. All this changing up keeps the movie fresh and from ever falling flat with the prolonged outcome and continuous tense atmosphere that never subsides after Se-Young’s finger request. It is only near the end that the horror element comes in, but we’ll get there.
You will have to be prepared for a long haul, because despite the ever changing backdrops and genres it is a long, slow burn all the way up until the last 15 minutes where we get to see Se-Young in her true form. There are long breaks in the primary story for backstory elements, different presentations of the past from different perspectives of people who have known Se-Young throughout her life. The movie even breaks down into pseudo-chapters as Se-Young progresses along her path of becoming a witch. One of my favorite lines happens in one of these stories, where Se-Young knowing someone is watching her says ‘I smell human flesh. I’ll stalk you for the rest of your life’. Just the almost playfulness in her voice, and completely casual nature makes this a very creepy moment.
The overall atmosphere is set up very well, right from the beginning with the intense music and camera shots it sets you up for what to expect later on. There are some scenes that were obviously purely shot for the creative delivery of the cast credits in the beginning which I found fun for a couple of them but then just forced and repetitive. It was a little unnecessary and just detracted from the overall feel of the movie that was setup just prior to them by the aforementioned intense music.
I was a little worried in the beginning with the acting, as many of the extras such as the co-workers of Se-Young just felt a little off in their acting. Nothing terrible just a bit unbelievable as people with the amount of cruelty they were willing to dispense, and not extremely well captured. Lee-Sun starts out as almost a caricature of everyone’s boss, extremely demanding and deliberately hateful towards that one employee that nobody likes. Fortunately as a character she greatly improves once we movie into the suspense phase, and Soo-Yoon plays her quite well as a truly believable person who is terrified for their safety and trying to find out what she needs to know about one of her employee’s (mystery phase). This leaves Joo-Hee (Se-Young), who I felt played this role superbly. She was just the right mix of vulnerable, intense, and creepy that was needed to pull of this type of movie. Although her sudden changes in attitude early on seem very out of place and awkward they become more understandable as we move through the movie. Joo-Hee was, in my opinion, the perfect choice to play Se-Young. And we can’t forget Mi-So (Se-Min), who only gets a short amount of screen time, and yet manages to be even more terrifying than her sister. Mi-So played this with excellent use of soft words and comforting tones during the most intense moments of the film, an overall excellent performance.
The ending was, despite all it’s horrifying cruelty, extremely satisfying and very well deserved. I say deserved because we had sat through the long stretch of intense emotions that never really let up at any point, and the ending gave us the release we needed from them. Much in the same way Para Elisa‘s ending was satisfying despite being quite cruel and brutal. I will say that I missed a key element in The Wicked, meaning a large clue was laid down for how this was going to end and why somewhere along the way and I missed it, because I was caught off guard. Se-Min took me by surprise despite the fact that I should have seen it coming, but it was really nice to have a movie actually keep me in the dark on one of its ending elements unlike many of the movies I’ve watched of late that have their endings at the beginning and give it all away in the first act.
The Wicked was a wonderfully intense, sadistically satisfying revenge (loosely) horror film. The atmosphere and continuous unrelenting intensity make for a movie that will stretch your ability to hold back at the jump scares. Well acted all around for the three primary characters, and the switching up of genre from drama, to suspense, to mystery and finally to horror gives The Wicked a unique feel that a lesser movie could never pull off. The slow burn is definitely worth it for the ending which is completely satisfying and has a nice moderate twist, if you can call it that, maybe more of a misdirection. If you’re looking for a good horror movie to really test your limits The Wicked is an excellent choice and made a perfect Halloween night film.
Overall: 4/5 (genre)