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  • Rev Horror

The Human Trap

Dir. Lee Moon-yong (2021)

A group of friends on a camping trip are stalked by a vicious madmen and his henchmen.

It's exceptionally rare to find a distribution company with such discerning taste in films to where everything they release is a banger. And yet, despite being relatively new on the scene (though you could argue that they're quite experienced as they're an off-shoot of Artsploitation Films), Cinephobia Releasing has been straight up fire since their inception. I've reviewed several of their films before (The Goldsmith, The Latent Image, The Coffee Table, Amor Bandido, and Emanuelle's Revenge), and nearly every one was much better than I expected it to be. The latest in their catalogue is The Human Trap, a relatively straightforward tale of a group of young adults who go camping in the woods and run into trouble, a tale as old as time. While hardly groundbreaking, it's a slow burn thriller with a mean streak and a twist that you'll never see coming.

What begins as a stereotypical "trapped in the woods with a maniac" film quickly becomes something else around the halfway mark. I certainly won't spoil the surprise, but suffice to say that once the tone change occurs, this is a wildly different movie. While there are elements within the film that you've seen before, and the themes within are nothing new for fans of the horror genre, the way that the film handles all of these events is refreshing and something I've never seen done quite this way. Or quite this well, for that matter. It's dark and dingy, disturbing and gritty, and it all fits nearly perfectly well into this tale of revenge, survival, and, ultimately, love.

There are a few flaws that frustratingly take away from the final product. The nature of the story requires some flashbacks, but they often come out of nowhere as surprising reveals instead of fitting naturally into the story. The finale of the film is also frenetic as all hell, jamming what probably should've been the last hour into roughly the last thirty minutes. That tonal shift is not a bad thing, however, and it elevates the film far beyond what it initially seemed capable of achieving by making it an interesting and refreshing take on a familiar story.

All in all, while this one wasn't my favorite of the Cinephobia Films that I've seen so far, that's not saying a whole lot, because their catalogue is phenomenal and it is still a fantastic film. It's shocking, very well done, and while it maintains an indie flair throughout, it has the production values of a much more expensive film. It is writer/director Lee Moon-yong's first film, and it will hopefully be a sign of what's to come for him. He's got a lot of talent and a really unique idea with this film, and I'd love to see what he comes up with next. If you're a fan of brutal Asian horror, I'd definitely give it a look.

Who this movie is for: Asian horror fans, Woodsy horror lovers, Med students

Bottom line: Cinephobia Releasing has done a phenomenal job with their film selection in their attempt to bring foreign genre films to an American audience. While The Human Trap is not the best film they've released so far, it's still a fantastic and nasty little indie horror with some bite. It's much more brutal than you'd expect, and it's a fresh story as well. With a practically elegant tonal shift about halfway through, as well as some shocking twists that I never saw coming, this is definitely one that you'll want to check out.

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