Hee-soo has been a bestselling author for the past 20 years. But her reputation and fame are all butchered overnight when she is accused of plagiarizing a competition entry that she juried. After some time staying low-key she emerges with yet another bestseller. But her regained fame doesn’t last long as she is again accused of plagiarizing a novel that was published 10 years ago. In order to prove her innocence, Hee-soo begins a mysterious journey to expose the truth. Bestseller is a nice little thrill ride that initially attracted me because it is a new movie that has lots of buzz about being remade for Americans. After watching this film I found out that it’s already so close in look and mood to a U.S. thriller that only the Korean faces will have to be changed along with a move to Los Angeles.
So, the only question remains, is it good? Well, it reminded me a lot of The Shining and it did have some genuine thrills and scares. I could notice immediately how involved the actors were in their work and they belted out some great performances. I learned that actress Uhm Jung-hwa even lost 7 kilograms of her weight for her role in Bestseller. I would say this movie succeeds as a horror film of sorts, with suitably atmospheric tones and plenty of touches of creepiness.
Sadly, this may be the case of a film that has good actors but a weaker script. Writer-director Lee Jeong-ho is usually seen as an assistant director on most projects, but had an interesting idea for his first feature that the studio took a gamble to see if he had what it took. I think he handled himself well but didn’t flesh out a satisfying script. Divorcing from her husband, she chooses an out-of-the-way vacation house in the countryside to write her book. Now we know in horror 101 this has bad news written all over it. There she starts to feel dread, sensing a frightening, unseen presence watching over her, with whom her young daughter starts to converse. When the avergae person with an I.Q. over 40 would leave, these people decide to stay making for groan worthy scenarios.
Not a perfect film, but I can admire any actress that can pull off a role with the amount of psychological baggage she needed to carry. Horror buffs might be a bit dissappointed by the paint-by-number scares but Korean film fans should make this a must-see. If only a bit more focus was used on this project I would have said we have a real winner here. Those who do wish to see it will either have to watch it on the internet or wait a bit until a proper DVD release has been set. In the meantime, Bestseller did beat Hollywood blockbuster Clash of the Titans at the Korean box office so thats an achievement in itself. Thumbs in the middle.