The Film (5/5)
Suddenly in the Dark follows Seon-hee, an upper class woman who is happy in her domestic role raising her young daughter, and providing a home for biologist husband Kang Yu-jin. She seemingly has the perfect family life, and assumes she is providing everything everyone needs until one day when her husband returns home from a trip studying regional butterflies for a project he has been working on, and brings with him Mi-ok, a young orphaned girl to act as their much needed housemaid. At first there are no changes in the household, but soon after Seon-hee begins to suspect that there is something going on between Mi-ok and her husband. Also, Mi-ok lacks any physical possessions except a creepy doll that causes much fear in Seon-hee. Seon-hee begins to lose grip on her sanity the longer Mi-ok is part of the household.
Suddenly in the Dark truly took me by surprise watching it. Apparently, it was one of the earliest examples of Korean horror cinema, as restrictions on the use of both horror and eroticism in the country had just been lifted in the early 80's at around the time the film was made. The film certainly blends both horror and erotic elements to a certain extreme degree, but also manages to never feel overtly exploitive. When watching the film I couldn't help but think that the film felt like a riff on Polanski's Repulsion with some minor inspiration from the Amelia segment from Trilogy of Terror toward the film's denouement.
The film acts as an effective mix of domestic drama, and gothic horror and works effectively as both. As such the film hinges on both the power of it's direction and imagery which is truly effective. We get gorgeous lush primary colors that truly give the film the occasional Argento-via Bava esque feel. At the same time the film is given an effective pacing allowing us as viewers time to spend with the characters so we can descend into the complexities of the narrative with them. Of course, the cast is limited, and do quite strong work with the material on hand.
Mondo Macabro continues their tradition of restoring films to the highest possible standard with Suddenly in the Dark. The film is presented with a splendid 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the film's OAR. Colors here look fantastic, blacks are inky and deep, and flesh tones are accurate.
The audio is presented with an LPCM 1.0 Korean track with optional subtitles. The track is quite solid with dialogue and score coming through clearly, and no issues detected.
Mondo Macabro provides a handful of interviews. One with producer Suh Byong-gi, and another with Korean film critic Kim Bong-Seok. Both offer great insight into the film. We also get a gallery of Korean VHS releases, and a teaser trailer for the film.
Another wonderful international film obscurity unearthed by Mondo Macabro. Suddenly in the Dark, is creepy, bizarre, and truly deserves any new audience this release helps it find. The Blu-ray looks and sounds magnificent, and has a nice slate of extras. HIGHLY RECOMENDED.