Ja-yoon (Da-mi Kim) managed to escape from Dr. Baek (Min-soo Jo) when she was a little girl and found her way to a couple who owned a farm. At death’s door, Ja-yoon was taken in by them and they nursed her back to health, raising her as their own. Fast-forward a few years and Ja-yoon is supporting her adopted parents who are struggling for money and battling with ill health. With the help of her best friend Myung-Hee (Go Min-Si), Ja-yoon decides to enter a reality TV singing competition in a bid to win money to give to her family. Once she appears on television, Ja-yoon catches the attention of Dr. Baek who has been looking for her for years, and the truth about her past starts to unravel.
The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be. Firstly, it isn’t a supernatural drama about witches at all. Secondly it’s more of an action-thriller than a horror, although there are some pretty horrific moments in it. The story unfolds very slowly over the first hour and it’s more like a family drama with elements of comedy in it. Once the tone shifts though, and you get through a few twists, the film throws you a complete curveball and it becomes very intense. As Dr. Baek sends her henchman to retrieve Ja-yoon, the film really kicks into action.
Where you end up by the time the credits arrive, is not at all where you’ll expect when you start watching the film. The plot is very clever but you do need to follow it pretty closely to fully capture everything that’s going on (which is a lot). The action in the film’s second half is magnificent with some incredible fight sequences and stunt work. Again, these moments pack a pretty hefty punch because you just don’t expect them. Every time you think you’ve got a handle on the film, it deals you a new twist and that keeps it very exciting and interesting.
At the centre of the ambitious film is a stellar performance from Da-mi Kim as Ja-yoon. She can go from sweet innocent teenager to ruthless and cold-blooded in seconds. Her performance truly is marvellous and I’ll bet you won’t be able to get her creepy gleeful smile from your mind. I’ve got chills just thinking about it. Kim is supported well by Min-soo Jo as the film’s villain Dr Baek and Go Min-Si as her out-going best friend Myung-Hee.
The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion is one of the biggest surprises of Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2019. The film caught me completely off-guard and I’m now very excited about Part 2, which doesn’t have a release date at the time of writing this review. It’s a little Tarantino in places with some clear visual nods to The Matrix and some of the classic stylings of a good old-fashioned revenge movie. You’ll be on the edge of your seat and the final 30 minutes will leave you exhilarated.
Cast: Da-mi Kim, Min-soo Jo, Go Min-Si, Hee-soon Park Director: Hoon-jung Park Writer: Hoon-jung Park Certificate: TBC Duration: 125 mins Released by: Signature Entertainment