Korean horror has focused on some ridiculous subjects over the last few years but Yoga Hakwon seems to take the cake. After finding this movie on a streaming site, I decided that I should give it a shot. What a mistake! What horror movie takes 40 minutes for the first scare to happen? It follows a woman who does infomercials and she is a bit stressed out by her mundane job and sharing the spotlight with a woman who is prettier than her. Throw in the equation of her home life on the decline and you have yourself a woman who needs an outlet before she goes insane. A co-worker suggests she enrolls in a yoga boot camp to relieve her stress and to renew herself.
On a more basic level, the film does deliver a few frights. Sadly you have to walk across almost an hour of dialogue before you even hit the good stuff. In the meantime you do get to see some very attractive Asian women partake in yoga stretches. If you have seen any generic K-horror from the past few years, you have already seen Yoga Hagwon. The ending leaves audiences with a cliffhanger that will undoubtedly lead to a sequel, but let’s hope that it doesn’t make its way over here. I just couldn’t get behind the narrative aspect.
You see, the time-jumping narrative structure makes things occasionally confusing, but everything falls into place as the director springs his last-act twists on the way to a melancholy ending. Making a horror film based on such lofty themes could make for some very pretentious filmmaking, and the end result is a no scare, yet attractive film. The cinematography is great and I have no complaint on the acting side of things, I just wish I wouldn’t have been bored to tears by this film.
In general I was getting fed up with Asian horror and this film is close to putting the nail in the coffin for me. It’s not a solid entry but does have an interesting premise and well worth checking out for the actresses alone. Just expect a poor grade from this one as I can barely recommend it to my readers. I can’t deny the effectiveness of his emphasis on slow-building tension, and in creating a sense of unease by staging uncanny events in familiar environments. I just wish it was more effective. This film is fairly easy to track down, so if Yoga Hakwon interests you, I say give it a shot. Just be prepared for its snail-like pacing.
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