Korean arthouse can go a number of different ways. Sometimes you get a snoozer (Woman on the Beach, Woman is the Future of Man), other times you're assaulted with gut-wrenching brutality (The Isle, Oldboy), and every now and then you get both. Such a film is Spider Forest. The film is, at times, agonizingly slow, but there's something about this supernatural puzzler that keeps you hanging on. Just as you're about to nod off, a new development in the onion-peeling mystery pulls you back in.
The story concerns a young guy who wakes up in the titular forest and staggers to a small house where he discovers a gruesome scene of carnage. Soon thereafter he's beaten with a stick and run down by a car. In the aftermath of all this violence (or perhaps before or in the midst of it?) he finds himself shuffling back and forth through time, space and lost memories to piece together exactly what happened. Is he dead? In a coma? Or is it all just a fantasy? Like many a freaky Asian film, there's an elaborate backstory, the revelations doled out like breadcrums in the arachnid-infested woods.
In the final analysis, I believe this is an ultimately rewarding film, and would recommend it, but be forewarned: It's an ultra-slow burn and not for the short of attention span.
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