NOPE, NOT THIRSTY OR HUNGRY AT ALL
Jae Hyuk (Kim Myung Min), formerly a biochemist professor now working as a pharmaceutical sales rep, works tireless to support his family after losing his life savings to a bad investment made after hearing advice from his younger brother, Jae Pil (Kim Dong Wan). After a series of bodies are found floating in the Han River, scientists discover that the deaths are related to horsehair worms called Yeongasi. Previously the worms only affected insects but they discover the mutated worms have begun to affect humans.
Typically found in wet areas, those who are infected show signs of increased appetite without weight gain and excessive thirst towards the end of the maturation period. The infection eventually affects their brains causing them to seek out water and thus drown themselves so the worms can be released. As the authorities attempt to find a cure, Jae Hyuk and Jae Pil race against the clock to find a cure for Jae Hyuk’s family who begin to exhibit symptoms.
A summer sci-fi horror film of 2012, I recently felt the need to curl up with a good thriller. The movie sounds quite complex but most of the points above are explained through a short exposition. The exposition in this instance is necessary and it doesn’t detract away from the suspenseful pacing of the film.
Kim Myung Min plays a father who is dedicated to his family. While Jae Hyuk starts off as an emotionally absent dad, his dedication is focused on providing monetary support to his family. It’s not until he sees the symptoms exhibited by his family that he throws everything aside for them. Since Kim Myung Min plays the role so passionately, we are put on the edge of our seats and go on the same emotional ride as Jae Hyuk. Our emotional connection to his family is felt through him as we experience all the setbacks he faces as he tries to save their lives. So while he is a dedicated dad throughout the movie, there is a different side of that dedication we see at the end of the movie.
The film also follows Jae Pil and Yeon Joo (Lee Honey) who is a police detective and a researcher with the National Institute of Health, respectively. As Jae Pil tries to keep order during the pandemonium, he discovers a breadcrumb trail of suspicious activity that leads him to investigate the origin of the infection.
At the same time, Yeon Joo tries to rally support from various government entities in coming up with the most effective and humane way to treat the infected patients. While the placement of these characters and their relationship to our main character can be viewed as emotional manipulation, they are essential characters who help to keep the plot moving forward. I would be overkill to have Jae Hyuk add investigating the conspiracy and researching the medicine which cures all these patients to his résumé as it would not only stretch the heroic scales too far but distort the real purpose of his character.
While the “monster” of this movie does make me squirm, the movie is ultimately driven by Kim Myung Min. The movie is essentially a story about a father and his struggle to fight for his family. It doesn’t even matter that his family is a trivial part of the movie. They are important catalyst but nothing more as we don’t know or care much about them. We see them through Jae Hyuk’s eyes and since Kim Myung Min plays Jae Hyuk with such intensity, we, in turn, want to see those characters survive.