This indie gem was shot on a modest budget, by an unknown director, with no high-profile actors, Hide and Seek was the surprise hit of 2013 at the South Korean box office- with good reason. The film spins the tale of Baek Sung-soo (Son Hyun-joo), whose stable life as a successful businessman gets upended when he begins having strange and inexplicable visions. Adding to these bizarre occurrences is the discovery of a spike in “squatting,” where a homeless person takes up residence in a house or apartment without the owner’s permission. The sudden and startling changes in Baek’s life become further complicated when he suspects his estranged brother Sung-chul may somehow be involved. It isn’t long until Baek’s entire family gets drawn into the mysterious events-despite his best efforts to protect them.
Director Jung Huh sustains the tension by skillfully weaving together supernatural plot elements with the gradual disintegration of this typical Korean family unit. The relationship between Baek and his brother Sung-chul allows for an exploration of the disparity between social classes in modern society. Combining the intensity and dynamism of a crime thriller with the daring nature of Asian horror cinema, Hide and Seek delivers shocks that evoke our most primal fears.
Though Hide and Seek is Jung Huh’s debut feature, his direction crackles with the confidence of a seasoned veteran. The story moves along at a breakneck pace, leaving viewers just enough time to catch their breath from one thrill before being confronted with another. Baek’s family battles with a host of twitchy neighbors, eerie entities, and of course, their own inner demons, when the truth begins to unravel. Alfred Hitchcock meets Takashi Miike in this South Korean horror thriller, and as the title implies, in Hide and Seek terror is often lurking right around the corner.