A slasher movie out of South Korea, Bloody Beach may be part of a sub-genre of horror that had its golden days in the ’80s, but its characters are brought together by something modern and what was at the time of production very new – they’re all members of a chat room community.
Having gotten to know each other online, members of a chat room decide to meet in person for a nice get-together. Luckily, when they all meet in the flesh, there aren’t any real catfish shenanigans, everyone seems to be pretty much exactly as they said they were… Except for one girl who had described herself as a guy online.
The group, which consists of four guys; Won-il, Sang-tae, Jung-min and Jae-seung; and three girls; Yu-na, Nam-kyeong, and Young-woo; settle into a beachside house that Won-il spends summers at and proceed to frolic in the surf, cruising in a speedboat, going scuba diving, playing in the sand, all while pondering who might hook up with who.
And wondering where the fourth girl, Do-yeon, is. She never shows up.
That’s because Do-yeon is the first victim of the film, her death starting off this slasher in both a typical and, in the way she is presented, unusual way.
Do-yeon is the first character we see on screen, and she’s introduced while doing a bouncy little finger dance in front of her computer screen. This is really the only moment in which the movie attempts to make her seem cute, proceeding to take her so far in the other direction that we’re even privy to the sight of her having a bowel movement (with her knees to her chest) while smoking a cigarette in the lavatory during her train ride to the place where she’s supposed to be meeting her chat buddies.
Do-yeon is still on the toilet when the train reaches its destination and the other passengers embark, making her easy prey for the knife-wielding, hat-wearing, shadowy figure of Sandmanzz…
Sandmanzz was the screen name of a mysterious, unpopular member of the chat room whose entire world was the internet and who is now believed to be dead, having committed suicide after being banned from the chat community. The mere mention of him stirs up violent arguments and hard feelings among the partiers as they start getting notes and e-mails accusing them of being bad people and responsible for the death of Sandmanzz.
After night falls, the slasher killer calling themselves Sandmanzz begins picking off the chat community members one-by-one. Is it really Sandmanzz himself seeking revenge, or is it someone avenging him?
Fearing that the killer may be among them, the group tries to smoke them out by watching each other log into their e-mail accounts to see who has received messages from Sandmanzz. Whoever hasn’t must clearly be Sandmanzz! It’s this film’s technological twist on the blood test scene in John Carpenter’s The Thing.
That test doesn’t stop them from continuing to get knocked off, though, until the group has been whittled down to just Nam-kyeong, who was the object of Sandmanzz’s unrequited affections…
I have to admit, when one of Nam-kyeong’s first scenes had her surreptitiously pointing her video camera at her fellow females while they changed their clothes, I didn’t have her pegged as the final girl.
Bloody Beach was part of the resurgence of the slasher that was the world’s response to the success of the Scream movies, but it doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to copy Scream’s tone or its self-referential humor, and even though it has the same sort of ending that the Scream movies did, where the killer is revealed and decides to have a chat with the final girl, Scream didn’t exactly create that sort of climax.
Delivered in a straightforward manner by director In Soo Kim, this is, despite the fact that its simple screenplay somehow required the efforts of five writers to bring it together, a standard slasher tale that updates the sub-genre for the year 2000.
Having been a webmaster and moderator of message boards for well over a decade by now, I can really relate to the story told here, about an online community that bans a strange, unpleasant member. I’ve banned several troublemakers in my day, and thankfully things never went the way that they go in this film. The arguments among the characters about how the Sandmanzz situation was handled in the chat room rang true with me, as I’ve been involved with many a discussion among moderators and administrators about how an annoying member should be dealt with. Since these discussions were never held in person, they never devolved into a fistfight, as they do among the characters here.
With some great, shadowy cinematographer, good stalking scenes, and a couple well handled gory attacks, Bloody Beach make not rank among the greatest of the slashers, but it’s a strong entry in the sub-genre that is well work checking out by anyone who enjoys a nice stalk and slash.