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‘Metamorphosis’ review: South Korean exorcist movie with a different spin

A different type of possession film, but is that a good thing?

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Exorcism films have come a long way over the decades. What began as a simple battle about demon possession has been spoofed, deconstructed, and given more layers. Sometimes, it seems like nothing different can be brought to the genre. South Korea’s Metamorphosis adds a new twist. What if the demon is not confined to one body?

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Gang-goo’s family is forced to relocate due to being harassed by their neighbors. His brother Jung-soo is a disgraced priest who used to perform exorcisms. Before long, strange things begin to happen to the family. Metamorphosis is less a straight up demon possession story and more of a horror mystery. Since the evil spirit is able to switch bodies, there is a constant sense of intrigue not usually found in these types of movies.

Each revelation is done very well, for the most part. When the family first gets attacked, each transformation is shocking. Though each possession is not particularly subtle, it is surprising to see how easily the demon is able to movie around. The law of diminishing returns is in full effect here, however. As Metamorphosis progresses, the possessions become less impressive.

The movie is filled with blood and body horror. These moments are to be expected. Limbs are ripped from bodies, blood drips from walls, and glass punctures skin. There is also the requisite evil laughing and mocking of God. Despite all of this being standard fare, the moments look good. Metamorphosis plays like a standard possession flick with great special effects.

The relationship between the family is very important. The shape shifting power of the demon becomes less effective if the audience does not care about the characters in Metamorphosis. The early moments in the movie do a good job of character development. It is predictable and at times can be slow, but it is effective. This adds suspense to the plot.

Metamorphosis does have pacing issues. This seems to be due to the story being a horror and a mystery. The movie has a habit of randomly slowing down for exposition dumps. This when trying to clue the audience in. Here, the audience is often told instead of led. This also adds to the movie’s runtime. Almost two hours is a little too long for a standard possession movie.

Movies about demon possession tend to follow the same formula. They are more about jump scares than anything else. Metamorphosis takes the genre in a different direction. The plot adds an element of mystery thanks to its shape shifting antagonist. This adds a new dimension that can be fun at times. The film does end up running long, but horror fans will appreciate the gore.

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