After Joon-Ho Bong‘s South Korean creature feature The Host amassed praise and popularity both locally and internationally, director Ji-hun Kim looks to cash in with his own home-grown monster bash, Sector 7. But where Bong’s film featured inventive creating on an epic scale, Kim’s climaxes at disappointing and clichéd. More fun was had mocking Sector 7‘s cut and paste design with the unlucky band of friends silly enough to join my viewing…never a good sign.
Not all was wasted time though. Kim’s villainous beast may have been a little too glossy due to passable yet not top-notch CGI work, but Mr. Nasty still had a few entertaining kill-cams and sequences. That being said, mixing in practical effects would have done wonders for presentation as the monster’s skin looked more pixellated than real, lessening Sector 7‘s overall fear factor.
Also curious were the creature’s kill tactics, slaughtering more for fun than preservation as usual. It wasn’t eating crew members, instead just tossing them around like oversized rag dolls. Don’t expect any epic gore or guts from Sector 7 either, it opts for cheap off-screen drag away kills. The handful of moments I reference as entertaining are few and far between in comparison to Kim’s cop-out tactics, but with skimping on set design and downgraded CGI technology could we really expect a full-out blood-soaked mess?
Unfortunately, Kim makes it hard for viewers to stay in the moment during outdoor scenes, seemingly photoshopping his characters onto CGI backgrounds. This choice isn’t something that should be avoided completely for a film like this, but Sector 7 sadly just doesn’t do it right. Actors pop from the background and become an eye-sore at times, noticeably existing on a completely different plain or dimension.
Most memorably, Hae-jun (Ha) zips around the oil rig on a motorcycle while surrounding buildings fly by in an unfocused blur, comparable to watching a friend play some sort of old-school racing video game. Perfectly understandable while watching a film like Speed Racer, but too obvious was the fact Kim wasn’t making a visual style choice and instead was making the best of what he had. I’m the first to stick up for B-movies that sacrifice production value for entertainment, but when a film like Sector 7 struggles on both fronts it becomes hard to justify the lack of breathable atmosphere and stale environment.
Storywise, Sector 7 gets minimal points for creating some type of creative backstory concerning its creature, a staple of most Asian horror cinema. Having a meaty story to chew on adds an element of reasoning to the horrific events that follow, but Sector 7 still squanders such an opportunity with misguided pacing and horrid scene filling dialogue. Boring bouts of banter make us wish for the monster’s return, only to be let down by another poorly thought out “execution.” How do you win?
Female dynamo Ji-Won Ha does her absolute best portraying lead character Hae-jun, the sole women rig worker stuck amongst a crew of macho men. Armed with a “survivor girl” mentality and kick-ass moves, Hae-Jun leads a cast of bumbling characters whose poor judgement usually lead to their own demise. Ha’s performance keeps the little bit of momentum Sector 7 musters chugging sluggishly along.
The only directorial decision I approve of is when Kim utilizes slow motion Matrix-esque camera pans and chaotic editing to shake things up. A different change of pace elevated danger levels and was tantalizing for the eyes, as characters could fluidly carry out motions which would amount to nothing but a blur in real-time. Otherwise, Kim took too many shortcuts and quick fixes while creating his entry into the monster genre, decisions that ultimately make Sector 7 nothing but a forced let down.
Sector 7 does nothing to further a genre with vast boundaries, focusing more on copying films of old than producing B-Movie glory. One would think the claustrophobic setting of the oil rig could offer instantaneous bleak despair, but Kim’s wide open locations fail to even translate natural fear let alone cinematic terror. With characters envisioned as nothing but playthings for Kim’s big meanie and lackluster kill delivery, sans one or two deaths, crazier genre fans will be letdown but mainstream viewers may find themselves underwhelmed as well. Only the most devout monster lovers should venture the waters of Sector 7.
Go watch Cloverfield or The Host, two creature features fully embracing the wide open freedoms such a horrific genre possess.
Sector 7 does nothing to further a genre with vast boundaries, focusing more on copying past films than producing B-Movie glory.