Joong-Su (Sung-Woo Bae) is a Catholic priest who finds himself locked into a deadly battle with a demonic spirit that possesses a young teen girl. He tries to exorcise the demon but to no avail. It spits blood and is generally unruly, to say the least. The demon throws the girl through a window, hoping to hurl her body to death, but Joong-Su grabs her hand, keeping her from falling. The demon, still possessing the girl, curses the priest and his family and promises death to them all. And then it breaks free and the girl plummets and is impaled on a spiked fence. His faith in himself nearly destroyed, Joong-Su becomes a shell of the man he once was. In the meantime, his family, including his two nieces and his very young nephew, are starting to have weird things happen around their home, and soon they are beset by the same demonic entity that Joong-Su failed to expel. Can he find the guts and the courage to engage with this devil once again, or will it destroy his family?
What a terrific film! This one has already vaulted into my Top Five Possession Movies of All-Time. I can’t imagine what repeated viewings will bring. There’s so much good stuff going on here. First off, let’s talk about the ideas in this movie. The notion of possession is fairly straightforward, but Metamorphosis twists those permutations, changing them, so that the battleground is ever-shifting. We don’t know who is possessed from moment to moment, or if they are truly possessed. The demon will manifest as different family members and commit horrendous assaults and/or heinous verbal abuse to another member of the family. And then it will walk off and the real person shows up, oblivious to what has just happened. This could and does happen to literally anyone in the family. They don’t know who to trust, and if you can’t trust your own family…And then there’s the gore. This is a wet, sticky and nasty movie. Don’t be fooled. You won’t get just green pea soup; you’re going to get cracked skin and yellow eyes and blasts of bog bile and splitting flesh and blood, lots and lots of blood. Every possession is painful and very visceral. The acting is beyond top-notch, everyone here nailing it. And the directing! I’ve never seen a Hong-seon Kim film before, but I will be looking for them now. He combines a lot of gorgeous set designs and surreal moments to create a dance with the supernatural that is uncanny and beautiful. Everything is somehow dreamlike and yet totally grounded in an earthly reality. I cannot say enough good things about this movie.
Hell, I didn’t even mind the longish running time. It all needed to be there. You get the spectacular beginning and then the slow build up until the last 45 minutes or so become nearly unbearable. Oh, and Kim doesn’t mind making his characters suffer. There are no happy endings here. No one is getting amnesia and forgetting about what’s happened to them. No, people die and the survivors are scarred for the rest of their lives. Metamorphosis is a hellish descent into the demonic realms of possession and hatred that defiantly and firmly holds to familial love and a belief in a power greater than the darkness that surrounds and threatens to consume us. It is not an easy film to watch but it is a terrific film. Do not miss out on this one.