Recalled is a South Korean mystery-thriller film directed by Seo Yoo-min and starring Seo Yea-ji, Kim Kang-woo and Yeom Hye-ran.
South Korean thrillers are almost always a win. Last year’s Netflix film The Call was a similar mindfuck of a movie, although vastly different than this. However, it’s a movie that I will always recommend that everyone watches, if for nothing else (and trust me, there’s plenty) but for the mind-blowing performances from the lead. Recalled is a bit different, but equally good.
Recalled opens with Soo-jin in a hospital as her husband Ji-hoon and nurses try to comfort her. She’s lost her memory and we later see her going through the past experiences of her life and what it was before the accident. The opening creates a great place for us to think of how badly this entire situation can go – losing your memory is probably a horrible thing to happen to anyone and now you have to re-learn who you are while believing that the man who claims to be your spouse is actually who they are.
I can’t imagine how absolutely terrifying it would feel.
Anyway, as things seem to look up and Soo-jin is coming back home, she gets stuck in the elevator as the power goes out in her apartment. It’s like the poor woman cannot catch a break. And to put my last point more into perspective, she starts getting horrible visions of the future that start to become reality.
Recalled is an absolutely breathtakingly edge-of-your-seat thriller. The movie’s pacing is on-point and from the first instance, there is a sense of urgency and seriousness in the air, like you’re waiting for something to happen. This feeling is compounded by the fact that Soo-jin seems to be alone in her peril, the doctors don’t believe her because, well, they think that she’s hallucinating and her husband thinks she’s unwell.
As Recalled progresses, Soo-jin starts learning more about her past, a past that she was not made aware of. It is from here that she, and us, start to realise that there might be something more going on beneath the surface that we are being made aware of, especially when it comes to Ji-hoon.
With more information and secrets coming out in the open, you start to doubt Ji-hoon more. The thousands of pills that Soo-jin is gobbling down daily, are they legit? Everything in her life becomes a cause for concern for the audience. We are as scared and confused as, and for, her. It’s all really well-done – the tension, the ambiguity and the concern, as well as Soo-jin blindly following what Ji-hoon says!
The big plot twist (that you might have been expecting) comes at around the 55-minute mark. I say “expecting”, but when it does come around, it feels like a brick to the face. You are as shocked and horrified as Soo-jin at that moment. That’s when the movie turns around completely. If you were horrified and concerned before that, your feelings will get amplified 10 times after this.
That’s because there’s another twist that I will not spoil in this Recalled review. But, this time, it’s two bricks to the face. I was absolutely not expecting that outcome and so the twist caught me from the left field as well as shocked and pleasantly surprised me.
Seo Yea-ji is so breathtakingly wonderful as the very confused Soo-jin in Recalled. She and the audience unfurl this mess together and you feel every emotion that she goes through with her. She’s wonderful as the woman who has almost lost it all but never comes across as the damsel in distress. She is smart, resourceful and she’s a fighter. Even when she’s vulnerable, she uses her wit to outsmart those around her and makes the most of the situations she is in. It is wonderful to follow her and learn with her.
Apart from her, Kim Kang-woo is equally wonderful. As you learn more about him, your views about everything start to change and by the end of the film, you shed a few tears for him too. The two leads are absolutely flawless and do a wonderful job at grounding you and helping you to immerse yourself in the story. Director Seo Yoo-min has created a wonderful movie that stays with you even after you have completed watching it – actually, that’s exactly when it all hits you.
Summing up: Recalled
There was a similar Netflix movie that came out in 2019 that worked with similar themes. Although that one was a pain to watch, Recalled movie is nothing like that movie. It’s wonderfully paced, smartly executed and well-acted. There isn’t a moment of boredom or disbelief and you can’t help but be at the edge of your seat throughout its runtime. This 99-minute South Korean thriller goes from 0 to 100 effectively and with brilliant pacing and keeps you hooked throughout and in the end, makes you emotional as all hell.