Slasher Summer Camp: ‘The Record’

By Anthony Crabtree, Guest Blogger

Today, Slasher Summer Camp goes where it has never gone before: South Korea. It is my belief that South Korea is currently making some of the best films cinema has to offer. While that might be what’s happening with South Korean film right now, the film that we are looking at today is “The Record” from 2000.

“The Record,” written by Chang-hak Han, directed by Gi-hun Kim and Jong-seok Kim, 94 minutes.

Now I normally would not start a review off like this, but first I have to warn anyone interested in this film about the DVD. Ironically from a company called WideSight, the film is presented with a full-frame transfer (not very wide …) and looks horrendous. It appears that the company used an old videotape to create the transfer. If at all possible, find another version and stay away from the WideSight release.

With that said, “The Record” begins with school getting out for the summer and a group of friends looking to make some easy money. They come up with what could quite possibly be the stupidest idea ever: lure a nerd with allergies to a house with no parental units around, pretend to murder him, film it all, and then sell it to make money. I have a couple of questions about this:

1. The friends plan to “pretend murder” the nerd by stabbing him with a blunt object. Now, I’m no stabbing expert here, but I would think an object (whether it be blunt or sharp) would do major damage if you jabbed it into someone hard enough. So they were just planning to do serious harm to him, but did not want to kill him? Okay. Moving on.

2. In what world can you film a pretend murder with a Sony camcorder and sell it for lots of money? I mean, “The Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity” are one thing, but five minutes of you pretending to murder your friend? I don’t think any studios would pick that up. Good luck at the amateur short film festival though.

Well, they actually do end up murdering Sung-wook (the nerd) because they mistakenly use a real knife. Naturally, the friends panic and do not end up calling the cops. They try to dispose of the body themselves. Two years later the friends are haunted by a figure dressed in bright red who wears a surgical mask. Could it be the return of Sung-wook?

As you can probably figure from that brief explanation, the characters do some pretty stupid things. This is what makes “The Record” surprisingly enjoyable. Yes, the characters split up when they go searching for the killer. Yes, one of the characters goes on a mission to hunt down the killer where it lives instead of waiting for the others or calling the police. And yes the characters consistently make unwise decisions when there is someone attempting to murder them.

These are all common occurrences in American slasher films, and it’s partially why we enjoy them. Do we want characters to think about what will happen before they act? No. The lack of any logical thought process adds to the fun of the film.

And that’s what makes “The Record” fun. It is by no means a great movie because it does stick to the standard slasher model. Yet, the standard slasher model works to entertain. It’s an entirely plot-driven film, with character development relying on differentiating between which character wears his hair spikey or which one tries to be nice to the nerd. Unlike recent South Korean films such as “The Chaser” or “I Saw the Devil,” there is nothing brilliant about “The Record.” Yet, it works because it’s enjoyable if you’re looking for a slasher film devoid of thought.

Grade: B –

Power Link of the Week:

Koreanfilm.org has a pretty self-explanatory name, and I encourage you to check it out and browse the site if you have any interest in Korean cinema.

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