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Horror films that fall into the folklore genre have always been some of the most loved movie types in the horror community since the inception of horror. It started with movies like Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) or The Wicker Man (1973), and is still going on today with Robert Eggers’ The Witch (2015) and Ari Aster’s Midsommar (2019), just to name a few; it’s still alive and well within the horror community. Lately, we’ve also had an influx of pregnancy horror. Of course this sub-genre began decades ago with Rosemary’s Baby, which was a massive hit for Roman Polanski back in 1968, but several quality films have added to it in recent years including False Positive, Prevenge and Huesera: The Bone Woman.

Seire is a new film by Korean filmmaker Kang Park who also wrote it and stars Seo Hyun-woo (Decision to Leave), Sun-young Ryu (Our Love Story), and Eun-woo Shim (Wanted).

The couple are practicing Seire, which is a twenty-one-day period after the birth when parents must behave themselves well, stay inside their home only and not let outsiders come near baby or house; they don’t adhere to these rules anymore. Because Woojin receives SMS from his six-year ex-girlfriend that she died he gains access into a funeral service where he eulogizes about their past thereby breaking the Seire norms. Afterwards, Woojin’s become victimized by disturbing dreams while life-altering problems begin to impact on his family’s lives. For him and his family to reach the edge of madness or die out entirely before fortune strikes its dark presence again, Woojin has got to make good all his wrongs.

One of my favorite aspects of this film was its Korean folklore. Yes, this does create somewhat of a slow-moving plot device, but it’s still haunting and continues to get worse for the family as the movie goes on. At the end of it all, what is going on in Woojin’s head and what is actually reality? Each scene adds a new layer to the story, building up to an unexpected climax; even then, we’re not certain whether or not Woojin has overcome the dark consequence that resulted from breaking Seire’s regulations.

South Korean horror movies have come of age in recent years. Films like The Wailing, Train to Busan, and most notably, Parasite which won four Academy Awards including Best Picture are some examples of great horror-thrillers. Seire is one of these decent South Korean horror movies as it has generally been positively received and now makes its way onto digital platforms and VOD through Film Movement.

Throughout its running time Seire touches on several pregnancy themes. Not only through things like stress over a newborn child at such a young age but also miscarriages that occur from heartbreak and depression culminating in suicide too. As the narrative progresses further details about Woojin’s past relationship become available as well as his impact on his sister-in-law and her husband who are trying to conceive.

There are such graphic scenes in the movie that contain pregnancy themes and can recall certain feelings for people who have experienced similar situations before. On the other hand, these are common experiences and issues of human beings, and seeing characters passing through identical events might remind us that heartbreaks and problems are not personal to us alone in this world. These moments serve to drive the story forward; they are not casually inserted as a result they seem more acceptable. However, you should expect some very horrifying scenes just like those of House of the Dragon. There are moments here that simply shock.

For a first film, Kang Park’s handling of it is amazing especially his intimate dialogues between main characters which he uses. This has been achieved through excellent writing as well as the brilliant cinematography and editing done by Geong-Heon Hwang and Jee-hee Han respectively. The dark, creeping tones employed in this film make it resemble something closer to a ghost story than anything else since there is a balance between semi-supernatural aura with real troubles. Moreover, it adds to the crawling nature of the whole movie thus making it not suitable for action-thirsty viewers or fans of jump scares; however, psychological pay-off is certainly worth waiting for those who are committed.

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