R-Point (Arpointeu) (2004)

Su-chang Kong's supernatural war horror.
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R-Point - Su-chang Kong's Supernatural War Horror

R-Point is a supernatural horror movie from South Korea set in Vietnam War surroundings (and filmed in Cambodia). As is common in K-Horror the movie is much darker than its Japanese counterparts and, although the movie is quite low on gore and the scares are quite subtle, the overall eeriness of the whole experience is quite intense. The movie starts off being what seems to be a fairly straightforward war movie but as the odd happenings become more frequent the horror and paranormal takes centre stage and makes this a more traditional Korean horror (although still set in a war movie environment).

The story takes place in 1972 during the Vietnam War, Battalion 53 is presumed dead after all contact was lost during their mission on a strategically significant island known as R-Point, south of Saigon. Six months later a mysterious radio message is picked up from what seems to be Battalion 53 survivors. The message continues at irregular intervals over the next few months, so LT Choi Tae-in (Woo-seong Kam) is order to lead a team into R-Point to search for and rescue any survivors.

After and encounter with the Vietcong and a few unsettling discoveries (like the standing stones etched with the details of a nearby mass grave on top of which a memorial temple has been built!), the team set up camp in an old abandoned French plantation then split into two teams to search the surrounding area. Discovering little of interest, apart from Corporal Joh Byung-hoon's encounter with some ghostly soldiers, the squad is about to settle down for the evening when they are disturbed by the sound of a helicopter. It is a military team of Americans who keep stuff on the second floor of the abandoned building. The Americans do what they've gotta do, tell a few ghost stories about mysterious disappearances in the area and depart leaving a few beers and a warning that LT Choi and his squad will probably not be alive for their next visit in four days.

The spooky goings on intensify as the mission continues and the stress levels increase as paranoia sets in and the ghost stories told by the Americans become more and more credible and it all cumulates to a bloodbath with the sole survivor driven crazy by all that has happened, all very reminiscent of the outcome of the Battalion 53 mission.

A lot happens in R-Point although there are no particular scenes which stand out, the strength of the movie is the atmosphere that it creates, and whilst the shocks aren't that shocking the viewer is left with a very uneasy feeling that grows exponentially as the story progresses. The empathy for the soldier's isolated situation on a seemingly hopeless mission creates a disturbing sensation. I would recommend a late night viewing with the lights off.
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies

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