So let’s rewind a moment, the aforementioned sequence is one of revenge, as an erratic, irrational housewife (Lee Eun-woo) becomes so enraged when learning of her husband’s (Seo Young-ju) affair, that she impulsively intends on slicing off his manhood. However when she struggles to do so, she takes out her anger and animosity on her innocent son (Jo Jae-hyeon), dismembering the poor, young man instead. Leading to the beleaguered father to offer up his own penis for his son to have a transplant. A selfless sacrifice of sorts – yet one that comes with quite alarming repercussions.
If this premise is one that turns your stomach, and makes you think this might not be a film for you, then chances are it isn’t. It’s a deliberately unsubtle, overstated piece, that explores the intrinsic perversity of mankind. It’s sexual, and yet never sexy, we explore Freudianism and sadomasochism to quite disturbing effect. Yet to counteract such themes, there’s a darkly comic undertone to this picture, born out of the melodramatic, surrealistic and often farcical nature of the piece, allowing us to the find light amidst the distinct severity of it all, able to appreciate the subversions of a harsh reality.
The lack of any speech in this title is effective too, and there’s never a sequence where dialogue seems conspicuous in its absence. Instead, the story is told through a series of glances, with the prominent – and somewhat persistent – sound of torturous cries of pain, creating a somewhat disquieting atmosphere. You fully adhere to this stylistic approach, as one that’s been presented with a minimum contrivance. There’s also a distinct lack of music, meaning that this film is made up solely of animalistic noises; grunting, crying, or just the sound of flesh pounding upon flesh. Without music we have no respite, leaving the viewer only silence to find solace in.
Conversely, the low production value of this picture is somewhat detrimental to proceedings. Without dialogue you anticipate a more aesthetically gratifying piece, where visuals take precedence, but sadly you’re left wanting in that department. That’s emblematic of a picture that is terribly hit and miss – as there are some moments which just don’t quite work. Nonetheless, Moebius marks another feature to come from an innovative director who manages to live up to expectation – in that he explores deranged themes, with a bold execution to match – and yet at the same time, he never fails to compel and surprise.