After a 'forbidden video' becomes popular on the Internet, a woman asks her sister's boyfriend who investigates cyber crimes to download the file. Soon afterwards, strange events begin to occur...

Good horror premise goes haywire.

PUCHON INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Exhibiting the knack that Korean cinema has for capturing on film the characteristics of the people that the movies are made for, Don’t Click capitalises on the often brutal rivalry of adolescent females and the fascination with technology that makes South Korea a nation of early adopters. So thoroughly has the technology colonised the Korean mindset that local directors are adept at using the cinema screen to open other windows within it like a computer laptop, so that audiences can see what characters are reading, typing or swiping on their computers, phones and pads.

the film forces its disparate pieces together despite their refusal to interlock

Typical internet-obsessed high schooler Jung-mi (Kang Byul) is just such a character. Using her nom de cyber 'Belly Dancer’ to bitch about other people online, she also uploads tantalising videos of her masked self dancing to give expression to a creative inner-self that wider Korean society is too hierarchical and oppressive to accommodate.

Se-hee (Park Bo-young), Jung-mi’s older sister, has just split up from her boyfriend, Joon-hyuk (Joo Won) who works for the IT branch of the National Police. Knowing that Joon-hyuk is desperate to reunite with her ruffled sister, Jung-mi offers to play peacemaker if he’ll give her a copy of one of the banned downloads the police have on file. Joon-hyuk complies with a Ringu-style clip depicting a doll being dismembered and placed in a locked trunk filled with murky liquid.

But the weirdness continues after Jung-mi views the ritualistic doll massacre. After shutting down, the download re-activates Jung-mi’s computer, as well as her webcams, and then secretly records and uploads some private moments. As her life goes viral, Jung-mi goes from being a media user to becoming its central topic. It’s a frightening snapshot of contemporary Korean life with its competitive jealousies, hidden prurience and an obsessive desire for privacy all laid bare. The sex, the technology, and the Korean-ness should be enough to see Don’t Click get local DVD release. But there’s a problem.

Like many horror films, the source of Jung-mi’s problem is shown to be partially due to a karmic rebound. However, when she and Se-hee and Joon-hyuk start to tackle the online curse, the film never really takes the time to clarify the relationship between the doll and the download’s mystical power. With the central premise still shrouded in mystery, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that the protagonists know what they are doing or why.

Is there anything more frustrating that a sweet premise curdling right before your eyes? Cumbersome explanations become the order of the day as the film forces its disparate pieces together despite their refusal to interlock. If Spike Lee’s version of Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy ever gets released, another flood of remakes of Asian films can be anticipated. Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of turning a local hit into an international flop, Western filmmakers turned their attention to films like Don’t Click and take the opportunity to enhance strong material that didn’t quite cut the mustard the first time around.


1 hour 33 min