Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Office, or: Live to Work, Work to Die

May May-hem continues!  Which for our purposes seems to mean gory films about murder with at least some level of social commentary.  This week we’ve jumped from Japan to Korea.

The Film:

Office (Opiseu)

The Premise:

Work.  It’s bad enough on a normal day, let alone on a day when a killer may be living in the office walls.

The Ramble:

We really hit the ground running when Mr. Kim–reliable employee, family man–returns home from work in Seoul one evening and proceeds to bludgeon his family to death with a hammer.

A man looms next to a family portrait of 4 smiling people.
In our family portrait, we look pretty happy…

Having disappeared without a trace, the police are determined to find Kim, as well as unravel why exactly the fuck a seemingly serene man would murder his family in such a disturbing manner.

The police detective, Jong-hoon, speaks with everyone on Kim’s team except for Mi-Rae, a lowly intern.  Though her supervisor tries to deter the detective and even cautions Mi-Rae against saying anything, Jong-hoon does sit down for a chat.  Though many of his colleagues looked down on Kim, he was always kind to Mi-Rae.

A man drives a car while a woman sits in the passenger seat in silence.
“You’re not my dad!  You can’t tell me what to do!”

As the investigation continues, it seems possible Kim is still in the building–security cam footage shows him returning to work after the murders but never shows him leaving.  Nevertheless, the show must go on, and the company employees are expected to continue working into the early hours of morning in a building possibly occupied by a murderer.

Though Min-Rae works hard, she doesn’t seem to fit in at the company and with the other interns.  Finding a knife in Kim’s desk (which has somehow not been investigated by police?!), Min-Rae holds onto it.  Is she hiding evidence, keeping a memento, or something more sinister?

Meanwhile, the arrival of another intern sends Min-Rae into a panic.  Though she keeps a cool exterior, Min-Rae believes it’s clear the intern was hired to replace her.  And since the new intern comes from a wealthy family, speaks English, and–the salt in the wound–is a genuinely nice person, Min-Rae doesn’t like her odds.

When a secret meeting of shady business dudes is interrupted by a body falling from the ceiling, things get even more tense at work.  Several people report dreams or sightings of Kim in the building.  One of the company supervisors has a public breakdown and screams at the cops.  Afraid of the damage the scandal will cause the company, upper management wants Jong-hoon off the case.

A man in a suit is escorted away while shouting "Cops should be evaluated! You hear me?"
I mean…he does have a point.

As the bodies stack up and Min-Rae’s desperate work frenzy amps up, something has to give.  Will Min-Rae get that much desired promotion…or die trying?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I love a film with a message, especially one that takes on the BS corporate culture of working yourself to death.  It’s honestly kind of hard not to feel some of the die-hard corporate characters in this film deserve what’s coming to them.  Though the evidence begins to strongly suggest Kim is living in the office building and taking out its employees one by one, management still insists everyone carry on as usual.

However, I did find this difficult to follow at times, and the ending was especially ambiguous on several counts.  It’s hard to be overly invested in the characters, as even Min-Rae remains quite guarded.  On the other hand, I found it easy to relate to her situation and really wanted all of the office fucks to stop being assholes to her.

Though it’s a slow burner, there are some genuinely chilling moments.  Kim compares his knife to a rosary in an especially creepy scene.  I would have liked some more clarity from this film, but it did succeed in being unsettling and unexpected, just the way we like on the blog collab.

Would Christa climb the corporate ladder for this one or finely slice and dice it like an insufferable coworker?  Read her review here to find out!