If you were wondering if director In Soo Kim and his five writers (count’em, five) patterned their Teen Slasher “Bloody Beach” after their American counterparts, all you need to do is watch what happens after two characters engage in some promiscuous sex in the woods. Yep, that’s right, it’s Crystal Lake city, baby. It may be South Korean, and genre fans may have to read subtitles, but there’s very little about “Bloody Beach” that will come across as “foreign”.
“Bloody Beach” is about a group of Internet chat buddies who decides to finally meet, converging on one of the chatter’s beach house for some fun, sun, and of course sex. Unbeknownst to them, one of their friends has already met the wrong end of a knife on a train before she could join up with the others. The rest, meanwhile, spend the next 40 minutes of screen time frolicking and flirting in the sun, unaware that a mysterious killer nicknamed Sandmanzz (after his chat username handle) is stalking them, waiting for the right time to do some slicing and dicing.
As mentioned, after the initial killing onboard a train, “Bloody Beach” spends an exorbitant amount of screentime in the sun. It’s not until the 50-minute mark that the second killing finally comes around; up until this point, and discounting the train episode, “Bloody Beach” could almost be mistaken for one of those generic High School Teen movies. Soon it’s revealed that a year ago a lie spread by Sang-tae (Jeong-jin Lee) had spurred Sandmanzz, then an anonymous chatter, to commit suicide. But as it turns out that was also a lie, and Sandmanzz is alive and well and he’s one of the friends!
Of course for the script’s “he’s one of us” premise to work, the filmmakers had to come up with a way for the “friends” to know each other, and yet still not know each other. As a result, the whole Internet chat room revolution comes into play, with many of the characters strangers to one another until they finally meet on a train platform for the trip to a beach house owned by introvert Won-il (Hyun Kyoon Lee). It’s here that director In Soo Kim tries to convince us that any one of the four male friends could very well be the killer. Curiously, the girls get exempted.
“Bloody Beach” runs 90 minutes, but only about 30 minutes of that is worthy of being called a Teen Slasher. The rest spends too much time with inconsequential nonsense like set-up and background exposition. If fans of the genre know one thing, it’s that we don’t need no stinkin’ background exposition. It’s also revealed that one of the friends know who Sandmanzz is, and is actively helping him to commit his crimes. Needless to say, this makes absolutely no sense, especially since this friend is himself sliced and diced by Sandmanzz later on. Gaping plot hole, anyone?
The killings in “Bloody Beach” are generic, but quite bloody. One in particular, involving an ax and a victim’s prone legs, takes the cake. The rest of the kills aren’t quite as creative, although it should be mentioned that “Bloody Beach” does end up killing almost everyone except the Fair Hair Lead. After all, it’s Genre Rule that you can never ever kill the Fair Hair Lead, who must always be left alive to take on the bad guy mano-a-mano. Played by Hyun-Jung Kim, our Fair Hair Lead is, as also dictated by Genre Rules, the first one to utter the immortal line, “something’s wrong” or variations of such.
It’s no surprise that all the characters are archetypes. Jeong-jin Lee (“Spirit of Jeet Keun Do”) does the tough Alpha Male well, although his demise was a bit disappointing; one would expect such an Alpha Male to put up more of a fight. Seung-chae Lee gets the Slutty Bestfriend role, and not surprisingly, she provides the film with its T&A quotient, including an enthusiastic romp in a parked car. Min-sun Kim, from “Memento Mori” and “Afrika”, has a brief cameo as the first victim, who takes a knife to the throat after getting left behind on a train. How did this happen? You’ll have to see it to believe it.
As the saying goes, it ain’t brain surgery, folks. “Bloody Beach” is what it is, and for fans of what it is, it’s not an entirely bad entry. Perhaps it’s a bit too predictable and slow in the beginning, and the villain, once exposed, proves to be unthreatening. The script has plenty of holes, although it should be mentioned that this is probably one of the first movies to really show “online chatting” with any believability. In most movies, “chat rooms” look more like a word processor program. Not so here.
Although it’s a South Korean movie, you’ve seen “Bloody Beach” before. But for those who have wondered how the Koreans would treat the Teen Slasher genre, this is an okay film to find out.
In Soo Kim (director) / Seung-jae Baek, Jin-soo Noh, Mi-young Park, Hae-won Shim, Kwang-soo Son (screenplay)
CAST: Hyun-Jung Kim …. Nam-kyeong
Dong-kun Yang …. Jae-seung
Seung-chae Lee …. Yu-na
Jeong-jin Lee …. Sang-tae
Hyun-kyoon Lee …. Won-il