Korean Film Festival 2018 Review: 7 Years of Night (South Korea, 2018)

The 9th Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) has returned this year and recently wrapped up their Sydney tour. Among the expansive line-up came thriller-drama film 7 Years of Night, based off Jung Yoo-Jung’s 2011 novel. A captivating tale of guilt and vengeance, 7 Years of Night was a film blurring the lines of justice, vengeance and retribution that forced the audience to ask the question of just how much was too much.

After accidentally killing a young girl while driving home drunk one night, Hyun-su (Ryu Seung-Ryong), resolves to dump the body in the nearby reservoir and attempt to resume a normal life with his wife and son working in the neighbouring town. However, Hyun-su continues to be haunted by the guilt, and when the death is uncovered, nothing will stop the girl’s father, the powerful and influential Young-Je (Jang Dong-Gun) from avenging his daughter’s death.

Tensions raise when Hyun-Su becomes a suspect in the murder, and secrets and moral stances are thrown in the air, especially when Hyun-Su’s son becomes the focus on Young-Je’s revenge.

Although long-winding and convoluted at time, the film overall did a good job on delivering the plot and sub-plots to the audience. The film never intended to go for any major plot twists, with the fate of the main characters being revealed early on in the plot, but this allowed the film to instead focus on the development of each character and the minds and intentions behind their actions, leaving a more complex piece that, rather than distracting the audience with the suspense of what happens next, allowed them to instead ponder on the situation and question whether they would have done the same thing themselves.

The film touches on quite a few issues relevant (albeit a bit dramatic) to the audience, such as family trust and abuse, but weaves it into the story quite smoothly so as to not take away from the main storyline. Jang Dong-Gun and Ryu Seung-Ryong do an exceptional job in portraying their characters, Dong-Gun as the ever so crafty influencer while Sung-Ryong plays the muddled father wracked with guilt and emotion.

My only wish would have been for the movie to be a tad faster-paced, as some scenes, although beautifully shot and directed, ended up making the plot all the more confusing and long-winding.

Equal parts terrifying and convicting, 7 Years of Night overall provided a pleasing balance to the eclectic movie line-up for this year’s KOFFIA, having made its only screening in Sydney.

REVIEW SCORE: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

For more information on KOFFIA, be sure to check their website here.