The Quiet Family (1998)
By: J.R. McNamara on May 9, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Eastern Eye (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). Korean DD 5.1, Korean DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 96 minutes
The Movie
Director: Kim Ji-Woon
Starring: In-hwan Park, Mun-hee Na, Kang-ho Song, Min-sik Choi, Ho-kyung Go, Yun-seong Lee
Screenplay: Kim Ji-Woon
Country: South Korea
AKA: Choyonghan kajok

The Quiet Family, or in it's native Korean, Choyonghan kajok, was the first film written and directed by Ji-woon Kim, the man responsible for 2003's chilling Janghwa, Hongryeon a.k.a. A Tale of Two Sisters. A combination of horror and comedy, looking a lot like an Asian Addams Family, and feeling like Poe's The Telltale Heart, The Quiet Family received three awards when released: the Fantasia Section Award at 1999's Fantasporto, and both Best Director and Best Film at the Malaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema 2000.

The Kang family has decided to get out of the city, to leave the rat race behind, and so, they buy a lodge off a hiking track in the mountains. Business is bad, as in non-existent, until a lone hiker turns up and takes a room for the night. The next day, the family discovers that he has committed suicide, and that his wallet has gone missing, so to avoid bad publicity or blame, they bury the body in the woods, and put it behind them…until the next body turns up…

Setting this film at a lodge gives the filmmaker an opportunity to drop in many weirdos and miscreants and you are constantly trying to figure out who is stranger, the family or the visitors, although in actual fact they are probably as strange as each other! The production values on this film are incredibly high and it is a delight to watch, a real 'feast for the eye', probably due to the director's ability to constantly contrast colors, and give some of the set pieces real personality. The Quiet Family was remade a few years later by Takahashi Miike as The Happiness of the Katakuris, although this doesn't have the characters breaking into song (although the eldest daughter does sing a bit to get attention) or acclamation. This film is a black comedy in the strain of Hollywood flicks such as Very Bad Things or American Psycho, not so much for the violence, but certainly the tongue in cheek irony.
In general, this disc has a good image, with some beautifully rich colours and contrasts. There are points where there is a little bit of artifact interference, but it is brief, and not a regular occurrence.
This being one of your more subtle horror/ black comedies, the 5.1 sound is not one that will make your surround sound work too hard. It is, though, a great restrained track with some very delicately placed effects.
Extra Features
Cast and Crew Interviews has two interviews, the first with director Ji-woon Kin (8 minutes 42 seconds) and the second with actor, Choi-min Sik (who plays the Uncle in the film and also stars in Oldboy) (10 minutes 7 seconds). These interviews are in Korean with English subtitles. They can be frustrating at times though, as the vision seems to jump around, but the subtitles remain constant, I am not so sure this is the greatest translated interview ever (I would like to get a Korean speaker to watch and get their opinions actually). It is interesting to see the guy who played in the Uncle in this film dressed as Dae-su Oh from Oldboy, as this interview was done during the production of that film.

Storyboard Comparison (3 minutes 47 seconds) is a split screen comparing some of the scenes from The Quiet Family with the original storyboards.

The original trailer is here (2 minutes 33 seconds), along with other Madman trailers for Streetfighter's Last Revenge (from the Sonny Chiba Collection Volume 1), Inner Senses and Breaking News.

The Stills Gallery is simply a series of 15 stills from the film.
The Verdict
Both humorous and suspenseful, The Quiet Family is a slow paced thriller with slapstick elements. If you don't mind you films a bit deliberate and maybe even a little 'arty farty', you will probably enjoy it.
Movie Score
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