• Name: The Silenced
• Year: 2015
• Country: South Korea
• Director: Hae-yeong Lee
• Main cast: Won-Hee Go, Ryun Jo, Bo-Bi Joo
• Runtime: 99 minutes
• Production company: N/A
Set during the 35 year Japanese occupation of Korea, The Silenced features an all girl’s boarding school located just outside of Seoul. The specific direction of the school is never explicitly stated, but the small handful of girls who attend are all physical ill and their headmistress (Ji-won Uhm) stresses that they will one day become fit and able to contribute to the Empire of Japan. The main character, Shizuko (Go), is racked with coughs and is unable to speak loudly because of crippling social anxiety, and so it stands to reason that parents send their girls to this school so that they may recover from whatever ails them.
With a slow start that only hints that something is wrong, The Silenced takes a sudden turn about 20 minutes in, and the pace only quickens from there. Unfortunately, it never really finds its footing and the result is a bit of a stumbling mess.
The filming itself is beautiful, and Lee has a knack for lingering shots with stunning contrasts. The image of two of the girls sitting in a vine covered boat on the edge of a lake, or laying in a barren basement side by side in their black uniforms surrounded by blood red flowers had the intended effect and there were quite a few scenes that I wish I could have taken stills of.
Still, despite a superb cast and beautiful filming, the plot never really catches on. For a boarding school with insidious undertones, the girls have a surprising amount of unstructured free time and they are often left alone. Somehow, the headmistress is intent on making them take a mysterious red pill and delivering soft toned lectures about their nation’s need for fit young women, but she’s not too concerned about what they might get up to on their own?
The Silenced attempts to portray a subtle manipulation of understanding, but in the end their hints are so subtle that I would argue they didn’t even exist at all. When the climax comes through at a break neck speed, rather than feeling validated in finding out what was really going on, I was just confused.
Inconsistent plot development and confusing pacing warrants that The Silenced be AVOIDED.
IMDB URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4708348
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