Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • Director OH In-chun, Believer in Genre Films
  • by Ha Sung-tae / 07.24.2015
  • Dream of Becoming Korea’s John WOO and MIIKE Takashi
    Director OH In-chun is an eager beaver. Last summer, OH’s Mourning Grave premiered. This summer, he released 12 Deep Red Nights on July 22. Death to Hold, another new film of OH is also waiting for its release in the second half of this year. OH is putting into practice his creed that “Films should be fun,” while becoming the master of genre films that blend horror, action, comedies and thrillers. We had an interview with OH about his valuable experiences in making horror, low-budget and genre films. He vosoted the  Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival for the third time with 12 Deep Red Nights following up on his previous works, A Moment and Mourning Grave.
    12 Deep Red Nights is an omnibus horror film of shorts shot in 2013. What made you plan the project?
    Originally, I was very interested in urban legends. Twelfth Night by Shakespeare inspired me. 12 nights, 12 horror themes and 12 stories. Around April 2013, I developed and changed some stories which I had collected to make into screenplays. At first, I was planning to unveil them in the form of online dramas. They could have been the father of the web-dramas which are popular these days. The first three pre-released films were well received. As a consequence, we expanded the shooting of The Secret Night, the fourth short, and even released it at theaters. 
    In a conversation with an audience, you said that the budget of 12 Deep Red Nights is one hundredth of that of Mourning Grave
    12 Deep Red Nights costs about 8.5 million won (USD 7,300) to produce. Severe lack of money led to an additional investment of 2.5 million won (USD 2,200) via crowd funding. The money came in handy for the post-production work. The low budget limited their scale and made us change their stories to befit situations in limited spaces. In particular, we had to finish shooting PM 11:55 and atmosFEAR over one night in summer.

    12 Deep Red Nights actively reveals that the film is an urban legend from the opening. Did you have a strong interest in the horror of the urban legends by nature?
    Yes, in a city, individuals feel various elements of fear and horror. I wanted to interpret them in an interesting manner. In fact, there are many stories that can be made into films but hardly take place in real lives. In addition, there are many fears, really physical risks that take place in friendly spaces. The vague images exactly matched a form named 12 Deep Red Nights. I wanted to express such elements through the pleasure of horror films.
    On the other hand, your feature debut Mourning Grave topped the box office at number one among Korean horror films that hit screens last summer by making a selling point of sensitive horror. 
    The film received criticisms from 100,000 extreme horror film buffs. However, the film was much softened to accommodate many viewers who did not like horror films or have any interest in them. I usually think that bad comments are better than no comments. Some people wrote critical messages about the film since they have interest in the film. We shot Mourning Grave on a tight schedule by dividing the entire shooting schedule into 23 parts. But among Korean horror films, only Mourning Grave crossed its break-even point in that year.

    It is said that you were a fan of horror films or genre films even before your debut as a director.
    I like exciting slasher films such as Evil Dead and Haute Tension. I made my debut via Mourning Grave, a Korean type horror film. If I am given a chance, I will make a good horror film in the style I want regardless of the size of its budget. To tell you the truth, I like films which are not limited to horror but have a good mixture of action, thrills and comedy like the films of KITAMURA Ryuhei.
    At one time, Asian horror films rocked the world. It is possible to say that Korean horror films are influenced by trends in Asian horror films. What does it mean to direct a horror film in Asia?
    Elements of fun that genre films give are universal in many cases. They can be successful when they maximize the fun of the genres, overcoming limiting elements such as cultural conditions. The Raid, an Indonesian film, is a good example. It is a big strength of genre films that they can stimulate universal sentiments. The Thai film Shutter is another typical example. In conclusion, genre films can survive as world-class contents only if they are faithful to their genres’ fundamental entertainment values. 
    But it seems that “death sentence” has been given to horror films in the Korean film industry at the moment.
    Above all, horror filmmakers should come up with ideas. They need to contemplate what to do in the current situation rather than only bleating about it while saying, “It is difficult to attract investment in horror films and distribute them.” We are able to make a unique horror film with a small budget. They do not need to be shriveled due to the small horror film market in Korea. Obviously there are loyal Korean horror film fans and they do not stop paying attention to Korean horror films. 
    Your next project is Death to Hold, an action comedy.
    Death to Hold  is an action comedy based on a chase. When I was young, I loved 48 Hours, a Walter HILL film. I was confident that I could make a chase film well. As good luck would have it, I was offered the job to direct Death to Hold. Even though I made my debut through a horror film, I am confident in making good thrillers and action films. My various experiences in short films are helping me a great deal in making films these days. 
    When will you finish Chapters 2 and 3 of 12 Deep Red Nights?
    I have not set the dates yet. But I have a mind to make them within one or two years. The success of Mourning Grave led the first chapter to a theatrical release. I hope that such good luck will continue for me. 
    It seems that you will be remembered as a director who makes at least one genre film a year. Do you have any role models?
    When I was young, I liked director John WOO. Before making a foray into Hollywood with action films, WOO exerted himself in directing entertaining films such as comedy, romance, horror and war films in Hong Kong. I want to follow WOO’s work system from that time. Ah! MIIKE Takashi came to mind too. MIIKE began his directing career with a B-class Yakuza film. Now he is playing a very active part, making films with budgets running from USD 2,000 to 2 million. MIIKE is my role model, too.
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