Anti Gas Skin (2010)

Director: Kim Gok, Kim Sun
Year: 2010

Day 3 of the Tokyo Filmex festival.

Anti Gas Skin must certainly be the strangest film in the current Filmex, and is one of the oddest films I have seen in a while. A killer is terrorizing Seoul. Or it may be killers, as the always-present gas mask obscures their identity. The press plays up the fact that the victims are always wearing blue. A teenage death cult arises, wearing matching blue sweatshirts and charting the killers previous crimes on a map of the city so they can predict where the next strike will be so they can be in the right place at the right time. The unquestioned leader of the cult is a pretty teenage girl who has a thick, scraggly beard that goes right up to her eyelids. Her hirsute condition is never explained, and only mentioned once, and then ignored. Although in a few scene, the beard is totally absent. She is also the daughter of a powerful military officer who shares a bed with her. Meanwhile, an American marine, whose fiancée was one of the victims of the killer, teams up with an English-speaking policewoman who helps him seek out the killer, and they give into their physical attraction to each other in the bedroom of the dead fiancée. He is a Travis Bickle for the 21st century, snarling to startled strangers on the street “you don’t understand anything!” In yet another storyline, an aging politician is campaigning for the Seoul mayoral race, and his wife insists that he wear his lucky necktie, which is off course blue. He is followed everywhere by gas-mask wearing stalkers, and takes to carrying around a spare mask of his own. As much as one might expect that these separate storylines would come together at the end, they never really do.

But a simple plot summary cannot really express how odd this film really is, as much of the oddness comes from unconventional pacing, a seeming mixture of reality and dreams or fantasy, which little to indicate which is which, and a pervasive, unsettling mood which is present in every scene.

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