Returning to TIFF after the gonzo fun that was THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, Ji-woon Kim brings us a creepy, stylish, extremely impressive take on the serial killer film. Casting the “good guy” from OLD BOY, Choi Min-sik, into a child-stealing psychopath is a small bit of genius, with his cherubic face all the more offputing when committing his horrific crimes.
The film follows many conventions of the detective story, with stunning noir elements and dank photography setting an eerie, sordid mood. Kim continues his genre mashup here, mixing in dramatic flourishes and great, aggressive scenes where the hunter himself (Lee Byung-Hyun) starts to degenerate into that which he is hunting.
The pacing of the film is quite slow in parts, but the performances are so captivating that we can relish the mood set by the work. I SAW THE DEVIL is a small wonder of a film, with the ending me reminding me of Mann’s HEAT, two powerful actors just ripping it out on screen, their intensity and ferocity engaging until the final frames.