Spider Forest (Geomi sup) (2004) • South Korea

I had to watch this film once, visit the IMDb and read all I could from other folks attempting to explain it, then watch it again before arriving at a score of nine. The first viewing left me bewildered. The Spider Forest is a place where the souls of those who die alone or unloved live in limbo, as spiders, until someone remembers them. That's a cool premise. Then it's a story about murder and memories. The Spider Forest is also the cobwebbed memories each of us navigate as we attempt to deal with trauma, guilt, shame, etc., but in the Spider forest memories are erased and must be discovered anew.

This is one of those Korean films which could not exist or be told with a traditional narrative structure. There are shots and scenes that come out of nowhere and seem not to touch anything around them until much later in the film. This can be frustrating. So why watch it again? As one can imagine, these out-of-nowhere scenes look completely different after you've been to the end once. All the nuances of a simple story blossom the second time through. And the film is shot and played so well it's satisfying just looking at it. I wasn't confused while watching the film. Only when it was over and I tried to 'sum it up' did I find myself puzzled by loose ends.

The film is beautifully photographed and the acting top notch. Jung Suh, from Green Chair and The Isle is beautiful and captivating in a very understated performance in dual roles, which, by the way, is a huge spoiler (this info is absent from the credits) that doesn't spoil a thing.

This film is incredibly complex without being obtuse. It is more of a journey than a story. I will be watching it many more times.


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