In my ongoing quest to spice things up a bit around here, I’ve decided it might be a good idea to throw a monthly film review into the mix. There are an awful lot of films out there, just waiting to be watched and reviewed and since I watch a lot of them already, I figured I might as well take a little time to write about them. Because, why not? That being said, I’ve decided that Alice: Boy From Wonderland would be a pretty good film to start with mostly because it’s a creepy mental thriller that fits perfectly with all of the pre-Halloween shenanigans going on at my house at the moment.
To be perfectly honest, I had no idea, going into this film, that it would be quite as intense as it turned out being. Then again, I didn’t really bother to do a lot of research on the film before I sat down to watch it. I just saw that Hong Jong Hyun was in it and me, being the overly obsessed Scarlet Heart: Ryeo lover that I am, decided that was all the incentive I needed to watch this film. (Because even being the evil, murderous villain that he is, there’s still something slightly swoon-worthy about the black-hearted Prince Yo. And yes, I am that patheticly fangirly.)
Going into it, all I really knew was that this film centered around Hye Joong (Jung So Min), a young woman who has suffered from intense nightmares, for most of her life. (Which is actually something I can identify with as my dreams are actually more terrifying than any film could ever hope to be. But that’s a whole other story and something I don’t need to go into. *shudders*) Having this one thing in common with this film’s lead, I went into this whole thing hoping that Hye Joong would be able to find a way to make this awful nightmares stop. (And also secretly hoping I might be able to make whatever worked for her, work for me. A stupid thought, I know but I’m not always the most rational of beings, especially not after being scared out of my wits by my own unconscious brain.)
With so many silly thoughts running through my head, I really wasn’t thinking straight, which is probably why I was taken so completely off-guard by this film, at least at the beginning. I wasn’t expecting to be so… I guess intense would be the best word to use here. The film took off right away, with all sorts of mental trickery that made you wonder just what the heck was going on and a surprising amount of gore that made me wonder just what kind of film I’d wandered into. Needless to say, I was very much relieved when the frantic pace of the film slowed a bit and I was actually able to grasp what was going on.
By the time Hye Joong wanders into Wonderland, a mysterious pension hidden in the heart of a supposedly haunted forest, the pace of the film is set and it become a whole lot easier to follow the overall story. Sent on a quest that could ultimately end her life, by a shaman who really creeped me out (Lee Seung Yeon), Hye Joong’s only hope of being rid of these nightmares lies in finding that which she has lost. With nothing more than this to go on, Hye Joong wanders through a world where the lines between dreams and reality are blurred and every step she takes could end up being her last.
Needless to say, this film is full of intense moments that not only mess with your mind but also tug at your heart. As the story progressed I found myself focusing less on the mental trickery and more on the actual story. This shift in perspective pretty much killed whatever suspense had been built up to that point which, in all honesty, I was more than okay with. Feeling much less anxious than I had when the film first started, I quickly felt my heart softening towards not only Hye Joong but also Wonderland’s two other residents, Hwan (Hong Jong Hyun) and Soo Ryun (Jung Yeon Joo). That’s not to say that just because my heart went out to these characters, I was suddenly okay with any of their actions, because I wasn’t. At all. It was simply easy for me to understand the motivation behind their actions. Being the softy that I am, I found myself on the verge of tears as the film reached its climax and I was very much glad when everything came to its final resolution.
To call this film an exciting mental thriller would be a bit of a stretch. It started out exciting enough but the suspense quickly gave way to sadness and in the end, I walked away feeling more like I’d just endured a heartbreaking, emotional drama than a supernatural, mystery horror. I guess that’s a kind of funny thing to say, considering this drama is centered entirely around both the supernatural and horror, but there came a point where neither one really even registered anymore. Perhaps all those years spent indulging in vampire films has desensitized me to excessive uses of blood. I’m not really sure. What I do know is that even with the impressive amount of blood used in this film, I found myself focused more on Hye Joong’s actual life than her nightmares and all the terror that lay therein.
Even if Alice: Boy From Wonderland didn’t quite live up to the expectations I have set for the mystery horror genre in general, it was still an enjoyable enough film and I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for something seasonally appropriate to watch as we count down the days to Halloween. The cast of this film is incredible, it’s beautifully shot, the story is heart-breaking and the way it’s told is certainly entertaining. With no set definition of what is real and what is dream, there’s a lot of creative freedom on the part of the writer/director (Huh Eun Hee), which translated into some very interesting story-telling. My only disappointment in the film was the way the initial suspense petered out long before the film actually came to a close.
So now that you know my thoughts on this film, I have to ask. Have any of you already watched it? If you have, what did you think? Did you like it? Did you hate it? Did it live up to your standards for a supernatural mystery horror film or did it fall short? Where there any moments that took you by surprise? Are there things you would have changed? You know I always love hearing from you so be sure to let me know what you’re thinking by leaving me a comment below!