If you’ve ever looked at your family and thought, “Wow…we are the definition of ‘dysfunctional’, you are certainly not alone. Many of us have done that very thing, and some think about it often. But if that thought has ever crossed your mind, don’t worry: your family is probably the epitome of sane compared to the people in MOEBIUS. This Korean thriller is an inventive yet disturbing look at one family’s struggle to maintain sanity amidst a self-inflicted turmoil.
If you are not familiar with MOEBIUS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of RAM Releasing:
A husband. A wife. Their son. The atmosphere at home is ice cold – the husband distracted by an affair with a young woman, the wife sick of her husband’s debauchery, and the teenage son indifferent to them both. Overwhelmed with hatred, the wife attempts to remove from the husband the organ driving his desires; thwarted, she instead takes out the violent act on the son and then disappears into the night. At the hospital, the husband is distraught with guilt, severing his own manhood in solidarity and setting out to recover his son’s happiness, sacrificed to his parents’ conflict. Disfigured in such a radical way, the son slowly deviates from normal life, even falling for the husband’s young mistress as the husband discovers strange and severe ways to help his son find pleasure again. With both husband and son damaged and living in grief, the wife returns as the family heads towards destruction even more horrific than before.
This is one of those movies that is similar to a car accident; it is tragic and horrific, but for some reason you cannot look away. That is a huge part of what makes the film so much fun to watch. I squirmed several times throughout, but I loved every minute of it.
MOEBIUS is shot very well and looks great onscreen. The production value appears high, and the cast and crew do an excellent job of putting this film together. I particularly like how director Ki-duk Kim is able to accomplish so much without using dialogue. There are no lines in the film, and yet it is full of powerful emotion, mostly due in part to a talented cast. I am not familiar with any of the actors or actresses in this film, however they all do a phenomenal job with their roles. I daresay this movie would be horrible if it did not have such a talented group in front of the camera.
The special effects in the film are good, with a couple of cringeworthy scenes (those involving the castration) that will make even the heartiest of gore-hounds sweat. Granted, there’s not much gore, but this is a case of less-is-more. I love how the film is able to have this effect, as it hits home on a primal level.
The story in MOEBIUS is the big winner here, though. The downward spiral that is set into motion after the mom’s horrific act is almost gratifying in a sense; the family is so apathetic towards each other that you want something to happen that might bring them together. But unfortunately, the events have tragic consequences that make you feel sad for them in the end.
MOEBIUS is messed up on several levels, but it is a huge win for me. I recommend it, however be warned if you decide to give it a shot: the film deals with some heavy subject matters, even if some of it is darkly comedic. It is available now in a variety of formats.