June 26, 2012 (U.S. DVD)
Je Gyun Yun
Ji-won Ha as Cha/Hae-jun
Sung-kee Ahn as Jeong Man
Ji-ho Oh as Kim/Dong-soo
Ae-ryeon Cha as Scientist Kim
Sector 7 is South Korean horror with monsters, girl-power, ‘drill baby drill’ and lessons about sustainable fuel and international water rights. Whew.
It would appear that Korean filmmakers love monsters. Well, that’s a pretty rash statement since my limited experience with Korean horror includes exactly two titles: The Host and Sector 7. Both of those are monster movies, so logically all horror movies from South Korea are monster movies. Also, your wife is a woman, Britney Spears is a woman, and therefore your wife is Britney Spears. I love logic.
Sector 7 takes place on an offshore oil rig, and after 100 attempts to drill for oil the crew has come up dry. It’s time to decommission the platform and bring everyone home, but the young woman nicknamed “Bad-Ass” (from the subtitles… I guess that’s translated directly) will have none of that – she is a driller through and through and doesn’t want to be anywhere other than this particular rig, called “Sector 7”. When her Uncle comes from the mainland to help with the evacuation of the facility, he agrees to push for an extension of the operation for a couple of months. Miraculously the very next time they drill they find oil, but that’s not important to the story.
What is important is that there are monsters in the water, and small little monster fish that can shoot out a poison tongue two feet and give a man a fat lip. Now the crew has a monster to contend with, and nobody is likely to make it back to shore alive.
Sector 7 is presented as a 3D Blu-Ray, as well as regular DVD. It is very clear that 3D is the preferred medium because it is the flying ocean debris and items jutting out into your face as you wear your battery-powered glasses in front of the home 3D big-screen that this one was built to satisfy. It is hard to imagine what some of those scenes would be like without the 3D – probably like the spear jutting from the screen in Friday the 13th 3D – ridiculous. But… in 3D the effects are great – really fun and the first time I’ve actually watched an in-home three-dimensional movie. It’s a nice experience and I recommend it.
The movie itself is another story. This film feels as if someone got a book on the elements of a good action/ adventure/ sci-fi/ horror movie and followed them to the letter. We all have beefs with films that are too “formula”, but image a film that isn’t just an outreach of formula, but such a literal expression of that formula that it couldn’t be denied even if you wanted to. It’s a cheese formula though – angry female with a hidden sorrow, the men want to quit but the woman wants to stand firm, motorcycle races on the rig after finding oil, monster killings blamed on the crazy guy on the rig, hidden secrets of loved ones… it really doesn’t capture it to write this out – you have to see to experience how the very typical elements of a film that we would bitch about are laid out one after another in such cheesy fashion that it’s just weird.
We do get a lot of monster time, and that’s good. Well, for a while, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. We also get social commentary on how far people will go to achieve “sustainable energy”, and how drilling for oil is a very honorable pursuit. It’s clear how the filmmaker feels about the issue; going so far as to flash details about the “real” Sector 7 drilling facility and how it’s ownership is up in the air if oil is not found there soon. The whole thing is, again, weird.
I can’t really say Sector 7 is horrible… the visuals are great and the 3D is fun. The characters are completely over-the-top in a Godzilla kind of way – not the remakes but the original Japanese films with the likes of Mothra and Hedorah the Smog Monster. But, I can’t really say Sector 7 is good either, because it’s unfortunately not. I wanted for the cheese of throwback Asian horror reminiscent of the monster movies of my childhood to bring a smile of nostalgia to my face, but it doesn’t happen. I do like the petroleum-positive messaging though… Drill baby, drill!