Posted in Fantasia 2015, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Socialphobia Fantasia 2015 review

socialphobiaSocialphobia / 소셜포비아  / Sosyeolpobia (2014)
Director: Hong Seok-jae
Screenplay: Hong Seok-jae
Cast: Byun Yo-han, Lee Ju-seung

Note: The next screening is on Tuesday August 4 at 12:30pm.

This is an independent film that looks into the effect of social media on the lives of youth. An online argument spills overs into real life when a group of netizens target a woman who made negative comments about a soldier. They decide to track the woman down in person only to find her dead by hanging in her apartment. While it appears to be a suicide, the group thinks it was a murder and decide to investigate more. It focuses on the investigation by two friends in the group, Ji-woong and Young-min who aspire to be policemen.

A few films have recently begun to incorporate social media into their stories. This one incorporates twitter in particular and often shows twitter messages on the screen. Not all of the messages are translated by subtitles so one wonders if non-Koreans are missing a bit of nuance but otherwise it does not feel like a problem in following the story. The word pking is also referred to when one of the netizens is broadcasting the group’s exploits live as they approach a suspect in real life. I had to look up what this term meant and supposedly the “pk” part refers to “player killing” in a multiplayer online game but I’m guessing in this context it’s just a public and real life confrontation with a netizen to get them to apologize for their negative comments.

While the premise makes it appear to be a crime/mystery, in reality it’s more of a character exploration type of film where we see how the discovery of the dead woman affects Ji-woong and Young-min. At different points in the film various characters are accused of the murder including Young-min. Background info about the various suspects and their arguments with the victim are revealed and we see the effect of public witch hunts that are based on little evidence. While mostly serious there are bits of subtle humor throughout the film. Overall, I found it to be an interesting look although there is nothing particularly deep about the observations in the film (i.e. online bullying is bad, baseless witch hunts are bad). The fact that the victim is a woman and the group targeting her are all men is not explored at all.

Seen at the theater at Fantasia 2015

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Author:

Longtime fan of East Asian films. Former "movie reporter" on the music radio show / podcast "Beats From The East" broadcasted on Concordia University's CJLO 1690AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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