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Park Hoon-jung‘s imagination is bloody dangerous! This screenwriter is better known for the South Korean film, I Saw the Devil and his contributions to the horror and superhero scene are few. When I heard about The Witch, I hoped his version of Firestarter is better and it is. The first film, Part One: The Subversion, is absolutely terrifying. The story ends with a cliffhanger which I thought might continue with Part Two: The Other One.
Thankfully, this creator’s idea of what may be a coming eugenics war is just my cup of tea! The first movie introduced us to Ja-yoon, a young girl who just wants to fit in. She lived in a laboratory for most of her young life much like Eleven in Stranger Things. After a revolt and subsequent bloodbath, she finds her way to a nearby farm, where a couple (who recently lost their own son) take her in. Flash forward some years later, her transition to adulthood leads her to realise she has psychokinesis and when she ‘reveals’ her abilities on television, the powers that be want her back.
This world where scientists are looking to make the next chimaera is haunting, and the opening credits say a lot more. The images of Nazi experimentation on children is perhaps the most terrifying image to start a movie with and its safe to say none of them lived. With this film, what people learn is that there’s at least one survivor who is in control of her powers and she knows what she wants to do with it!
In this sequel, the focus is on Shin Si-ah, who also survived the carnage wrought upon the lab (known as The Ark). Like Ja-yoon, both are equally powerful in The Force. The two eventually meet, and as for what they can do with their combined powers could change the world!
Seoul, South Korea, could explode into a bubble like in Akira. Thankfully, Hoon-jung’s sci-fi tale is not set in a futuristic world, otherwise the budget to make that film would explode! What we get instead is a tale set in the modern day, where we get similar forces working towards controlling psychically gifted children. The cat and mouse chase makes up part of the narrative, but what I enjoyed more is the exposition that explains the back story.
In comparison, The Other One is as complex as Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga. As a result, I had a bit of trouble keeping up. I feel Hoon-jung‘s original pitch was to make a television series, but no studio wanted to back it. So instead, he had to make a movie.
This sequel packs a lot of material into the 137-minute runtime and deals with at least four subplots. When compared to the first film, the only difference is in developing one character instead of several. One detail that’s consistent is Dr. Baek (Jo Min-su)’s presence. She’s orchestrating events as they unfold, and I liken her to The Emperor from The Force Awakens trilogy. Her plan is to use these kids for some kind of secret war.
The third and perhaps last movie might resolve everything, but I’m doubtful that it’ll end there. Just maybe, we’ll also learn how it connects to the past. All those ancient world images must mean something!
3½ Stars out of 5
The Witch Part Two The Other One Trailer