Written by: Je-gyun Yun
Directed by: Ji-hun Kim
Starring: Ji-won Ha, Sung-kee Ahn and Ji-ho Oh
Reviewed by: Brett Gallman
Something awaits them 8,000 feet under the sea.
Sector 7 ends with a brief history lesson explaining its title--as it turns out, Sector 7 is an actual oil rig thatís technically shared by South Korea and Japan, only the latter country ditched it in the mid-80s, so when the lease is up in about twenty years, it could be the site of a nasty turf war between the two countries. None of this really has anything to do with the film itself, which is too bad because it would seemingly be a good jumping off point for some historical horror fiction, plus it could provide a cool thematic undercurrent that often comes with giant monsters and messing with the environment. But no, Sector 7 is basically just another monster movie, and not particularly a great one.
About twenty five years after an accident at Sector 7, a crew has returned to drill for oil. Their attempts repeatedly fail, but one of the members of the original 80s crew, Jeong Man (Sung-kee Ahn), returns to the site to help the current group, which includes his niece, Hae Jun (Ji-won Ha). History repeats itself when a deep sea dive turns fatal, plus one of the rigís scientists ends up being killed when she falls from a platform. The rest of the crew begins to suspect that all of this isnít an accident at all and instead assume that thereís a murderer on the loose (after all, this one weirdo was ogling the dead scientist).
However, since I told you Sector 7 is a monster movie, you know better. And before long, the characters do as well, as the movie dispenses with any sort of mystery once stuff begins going down, as we get the requisite reveals that explain just what weíre dealing with. In short, itís another science experiment gone wrong, sort of an Alien-lite examination of hubris and greed thatís resulted in a giant, mutated CGI lard terrorizing an oil rig. Not a bad concept in theory, especially since an oil rig is so confined, dank, and grimy. Itís a natural fit for a horror movie, but itís a bit wasted here since Sector 7 just degenerates into a bunch of lifeless stalk and splatter sequences, only it holds back on the splatter (in fact, it seems to go out of its way to avoid a whole lot of on screen violence). Thereís a lot of cool stuff going on, like the monster chasing a girl on a dirt bike around the oil rig, but the pacing is tedious and a little one note (the entire third act of the film is a long, extended chase, and thereís only so many times you can see this monster flick its tongue out and ensnare someone with it).
Itís almost alarming how the air goes out of the balloon in Sector 7 as soon as it should become more interesting. The foundation of the film is solid, as it presents the requisite 1985 prologue that draws out the mystery, and the introduction to the crew reveals a good-natured bunch of grease monkeys who like to compare scars like theyíre aboard the Orca. Thereís a real earnestness to the bombast--the score blares incessantly, and a cornball charm permeates the proceedings as if it were a Michael Bay movie. Director Ji-hun Kim also takes the right steps in developing his ensemble, who are well-realized by the cast, but thereís very little interest in them once the monster shows up, and a lot of the scripted drama never quite pays off. Instead, youíre stuck watching Ji-won Ha run away from a giant blob for what feels like half an hour, and the repeated attempts to coax up some thrills and scares come up a little dry.
Sector 7 canít shake its cheapness, either; the entire thing looks to have been shot on a soundstage, with the backgrounds being filled in digitally on some jarring occasions. An early dirt-bike race featuring Ha and her on-screen beau is especially distracting, and the film looks altogether fake and flat, the latter point especially being a surprise since this was South Koreaís first 3D film. The monster itself is a similarly unimpressive and generic glob thatís revealed far too early into the proceedings and to little fanfare to boot (itís just sort of standing in a corridor when itís finally seen). Some of the sequences featuring it (such as one involving an elevator shaft) are well-designed, but, ultimately Sector 7 is a series of scenes that are kind of cool in a vacuum but never add up to a compelling film.
While this feels like an obvious attempt to capitalize on the success of The Host, it falls well short of those lofty ambitions and instead lands somewhere in the zone of a generic monster movie thatís not suspenseful or gory enough to land any impactful blows. Like its creature, itís amorphous, bland, and lumbers around a bit lifelessly. Still, Shout Factory will be bringing it home to a fine Blu-ray presentation that even features the 3D version of the film for those with that capability. The 2D version looks rather pristine itself, and the DTS-MA Korean soundtrack will impressively engage your audio setup, but thereís also some lossy English soundtrack options as well. The extras include a trailer and a collection of featurettes that take you behind the scenes to look at the cast and crewís experiences as they made the film. Monster movie enthusiasts will want to check out Sector 7, but they shouldn't be in any real rush to do so. Rent it!
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