penny pincher who looks like a porn star, a man whose wife may be cheating on
him with a fund manager, a woman hawking a water purifier, a nosy old man, a
demure piano teacher, and two teenagers filming the going-ons of their apartment
building's tenants to sell on the black market. All this, plus a young online
gamer who has come to this particular building looking for a fellow gamer named
"Viagra". As the Korea-Japan soccer match plays in the background, the
killings start in the foreground.
Like most South Korean films that indulge in serial
killings, "Paradise Villa" is very graphic. The blood spurts freely
after knife stabbings and accidental killers find that bodyparts take a long
time to hack loose with just a kitchen knife. Anyone looking for a grounded
Slasher film (No possessed scarecrows here!), will find "Paradise
Villa" to their liking. The story is rather convoluted at first glance, but
proves to be rather simple.
Aside from the young gamer in search of his online opponent, who he blames for
stealing his "weapons", there's the matter of the fund manager and his
affair with the piano teacher. During a passionate tryst, the lovers are
interrupted by a neighbor who believes the piano teacher is his wife. This
situation ends up badly for the neighbor, who meets his death at the end of a
As the young gamer goes about his business seeking Viagra
and racking up an impressive bodycount in the process, the fund manager and
piano teacher struggles to get rid of the neighbor's body. Meanwhile, the other
neighbors are either too busy watching the Korea-Japan soccer match or caught up
in their own personal dysfunctions to notice the chaos going on outside their
doors. It's all directed with an eye toward irony by Chong-won Park, who
surprisingly once helmed the social film "Our
"Villa" is no "Hero", as the two films
are diametrically opposed in almost every way. "Paradise Villa" can be
best compared to the American "May";
both are grounded, have plenty of grit, and there is a sense of casualness to
their bloody madness. Although unlike "May", this South Korean Slasher
starts the party early, with a bloody killing in a bathroom. That starts a chain
reaction, with the online gamer (Han-jun Jo) coming into contact with various
tenants on his neverending quest to find the elusive Viagra.
For the average moviegoer I don't think "Paradise Villa" will, as they
say, "play". It's an entertaining and grisly film, with a large dose
of blood, sex, and violence. That is, if those are things you look for in a
movie. The film's nonchalant attitude is very South Korean, but don't expect
ghosts with long dark hair or characters staring off into space for long
stretches in the service of mood. Thank goodness the Koreans still know how to
make horror films that isn't just another direct copy of "Ringu".
For Slasher fans, "Paradise Villa" will be a
terrific entry. The film plays out as mostly straightforward, with none of those
Third Act twists that comes out of left field that filmmakers nowadays are so
enamored with. But once again, I would only recommend "Paradise Villa"
for Slasher fans. Everyone else will not enjoy its well-done violence, or
appreciate the matter-of-fact way it goes about business. The characters in the
building threatens to become caricatures from time to time, but more often than
not they come across like real (albeit dysfunctional) people.
This is one of those movies only fans that have become
jaded with American Slashers can truly enjoy. If you've ever wondered why
American Slashers can't take the time to approach their films from a different
vantage point besides what's been done ad nauseaum, "Paradise Villa"
is what you've been waiting for.