Many horror movies are about the protagonist’s search for something. Whether it is a missing person or a mysterious link to the past, the unknown is a huge part of the genre. South Korea’s Warning: Do Not Play is one such film. The story follows a film director named Mi-jung. She has heard about a banned film and wants to use it as inspiration for her next project. As she learns more about the movie, it begins to intersect with her real life.
Warning: Do Not Play does an excellent job of world building. This is a movie set in the film industry. So it comes as no surprise when characters casually name drop famous directors, movies, and film festivals. The audience immediately has an idea of what the characters enjoy. This helps in some of the movie’s storytelling. The plot sounds pretty standard at first. A young filmmaker is struggling to make a film. After hearing an urban legend about a movie, she wants to know more. This leads to some frightening revelations.
Some of the decisions made in Warning: Do Not Play may seem odd. It is thanks to the insight given to the characters in the early stages of the film, audiences will be able to forgive some odd choices made later. This is not to say things do not get a little convoluted; this is a story about trying to make a movie while watching a movie about the making of another movie. But at least no one ever does anything that is out of character.
The film is also very atmospheric. There are the usual dark hallways and cramped spaces, but there is also excellent use of lightning. In particular, the use of red stands out. Warning: Do Not Play plays out more like a mystery until a horror film. This adds a level of intrigue not usually seen in the genre. Oddly, the movie lacks in the tension the story would seem to have naturally.
Warning: Do Not Play is not a standard K-Horror movie. The plot may seem familiar at first, but if quickly veers off into a different direction. There is an layer of mystery that keeps the movie engaging. Strong direction and a creepy story overcome some of the more confusing parts of the story.
Warning: Do Not Play will be available on Shudder June 11.