Uhm, as his long-suffering wife, is also pretty good. She’s much quieter than her husband or sons, but her deadpan face and body language say it all. As the sons, Jeong and Kim are great, bickering like real-life siblings. Jung is not required to do much more than stare blankly, but his confusion over who he is can be felt when he’s allowed to show his range. However, it is Soo-Kyung Lee, who absolutely steals every scene she’s in. Her character is charmingly odd, but she never puts the audience off. And given some of the things Hae-Gul does, that was in very real danger of happening. But, the actress effortlessly lives and breathes her role in a way that intrigues the audience.
And for a while, it is enough to watch this silly family interact with the surreal situation and comical happenings that befall them from chancing upon a zombie. Even after the movie’s plot loses its sure-footing, the actors are still giving it their all. Co-writer Lee Min-Jae’s direction is as equally as assured the acting. Shot compositions are fantastic, with one memorable camera move pushing up towards the sunroof of a trailer being especially eye-catching. Another sequence involving carnage at a wedding slides its camera through the reception hall as purple confetti and red blood rain down from the ceiling.
“…Soo-Kyung Lee…absolutely steals every scene she’s in.”
And if Zombie For Sale were to be judged solely on its acting and directing, it would be a slam dunk, no questions asked. But, if a movie has a story that must be considered, and after a delightful set-up and some fun reactions as the second act begins, things begin to falter. For one, the screenplay by Min-Jae and Jung Seo-in has one too moments where the townsfolk investigate who or what the zombie is (the Parks try hiding him for a while). A few of these moments are fine, but it feels like this is how the audience is introduced to all of the townsfolk. It feels like padding after awhile.
And the script does not do nearly enough with all its ideas. The whole de-aging angle is original, and after being forgotten for a long while, does re-emerge at the very end of the film with a solid joke. But until then, it is not as explored or as important as it should be to deserve the attention it takes away from the main story. There also needed to be more juxtaposition of this small town versus the prospering urban life for all of its themes to land. Yes, there is a bit of that, but not enough to really hit home.
Before the climax hits, Zombie For Sale settles into a bland routine that means viewers check out for 45-minutes or so. But, the first act and the chaotic finale are fun and satisfying. Couple that with the impeccable directing style and a terrific cast trying their best, and you get a fun movie. Though the pieces are all there to make this something much more, so just being fun feels a bit disappointing.
"…one of only a handful of full-blown zombie comedies from South Korea."