|Root of Evil (2003)|
|Starring:||Hye-jin Shim, Jin-geun Kim and Oh-bin Mun|
|The Plot: Kim Do-il (Kim Jin-geun) is a successful teacher who desperately wants a child, unfortunately his art-teacher wife Choi Mi-sook (Shim Hye-jin) doesn’t feel the same. The two are unwilling to physically have a child of their own at this point, and they often debate about adopting a child. When Kim finally makes a case for the adoption, his patient wife begrudgingly goes along with the plan. When they arrive at the adoption agency, his wife is immediately drawn to a fantastic painting on the wall. The painting was apparently done by the young Jin-sung and Choi makes up her mind very quickly on just what child she wants to adopt. The parents bring young Jin-sung home only to find that the young boy might have a few very interesting obsessions. His quiet nature is creepy enough, but his fascination with the dead Acacia tree in this family’s backyard seems to hint at something even more sinister. As this new family unit begins to learn to function with one another, they quickly find that this boy has a multitude of secrets that will inevitably rip this family apart.|
The “evil kid” genre can be both a blessing and a curse when you really get to thinking about it. Ever since the days of The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby, there has seemingly been very little new added to this genre, despite several films attempting to do so throughout the years. The Good Son was essentially a rebirth of The Omen, despite no one asking for it, but only with slightly less Satanism thrown into the mix. Most recently, we have seen Orphan pick up a decent push from horror fans. The film, while not perfect, offered a slight variation on the “evil child” mythos. Although Orphan inevitably received mixed reactions from mainstream critics, as all horror films do, I am of the opinion that it was a fun example of what can go ‘right’ with this genre if the filmmaker knows what they are doing. Root of Evil also steps into this category, but only during the first two thirds of the film’s running time. During this introduction of the Jin-sung character, the audience doesn’t know what to make of this kid. The filmmakers do their best to fill our heads with an extreme amount of doubt when it comes to the Jin-sung character. Although his intentions remain rather ambiguous, director and writer Ki-hyeong Park does a fantastic job of establishing red herrings throughout his story. With scenes that play out in one context, but which are seen with a much different context later on in the movie, the writer/director plays games with his audience and secures himself a place on my “directors to keep an eye on” list.