Who's That Knocking at My Door?

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Pusan International Film Festival

BUSAN, South Korea -- The childhood bully is perhaps the one figure that many of us would like to get back at. That's the subject of "Who's That Knocking at My Door?" an above-average look at the agony of youth. It's just the kind of meditative exploration of personal baggage that will play well on the festival circuit, though it's too understated to find much success in general release.

Je-Hui (Im Ji-Kyu) is a lonely shut-in who was the target of school bully Pyo (Pyo Sang-Woo) when he was in high school. Now bitter and unemployed, he reconnects with Pyo and his girlfriend Ro-Mi (Im Ji-Hyun) and takes his chance for revenge. Desperately trying to bring Je-Hui out of his shell is his would-be girlfriend Jang-Hwi (Yu So-Shi), who he meets when they almost get hit by falling furniture. Byeong-Chul (Jo Seong-Ha) is a local chatroom stalker who is "hired" by Je-Hui to aid in his vengeance.

"Who's That" begins on the muddled side with shades of "All About Lily Chou-Chou" hanging over it: Je-Hui and Byeong-Chul meet online, share their stories and opinions and (presumably) make their pact there. But once the film hits its stride, it transforms into a low-key look at past pain and the effects that pain has on us when it's left to simmer. Je-Hui lives in the shadow of victimhood and lets his anger fester until it reaches the breaking point. When he does act, that anger manifests itself by proxy quite violently.

Director-writer Yang Hea-Hoon's feature debut does a nice job of visually relaying the oppression Je-Hui feels, and many of cinematographer Jung Hi-Sung's images are truly striking, if occasionally underlit. Technical glitches aside, the film boasts strong performances, with Im as Je-Hui striking the right balance between navel-gazing melancholy and crippling, unexpressed rage. "Who's That Knocking at My Door?" is a slow build, but proves to be worth the wait.


WHO'S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR?
A Relay Film production
Credits:
Director: Yang Hea-Hoon
Screenwriter: Yang Hea-Hoon
Producer: Choi Sang-Mun
Executive producer: Shim Gil-Jung
Director of photography: Jung Hi-Sung
Production designer: Kim Jung-Hi
Editor: Kim Sun-Min, I Yeon-Jeong
Cast:
Je-Hui: Im Ji-Kyu
Pyo: Pyo Sang-Woo
Jang-Hwi: Yu So-Shi
Byeong-Chul: Jo Seong-Ha
Ro-Mi: Im Ji-Hyun

Running time -- 84 minutes
No MPAA rating
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