Directed by Kim Ji-Woon and Yim Pil-sung, Doomsday Book is a South Korean science-fiction anthology film that explores the relationship between technology and human experience in the modern era. However, the feelings of fear and dread invoked by similar science-fiction films are missing in Doomsday Book. Instead, the stories poke and prod cultural satire with compassion. The audience will not be left anxious of the abilities of technology, but rather reassured that amidst this era of prolific technological growth, our inner humanity will prevail.
The film chronicles three stories of human self-destruction, which collectively work to provoke optimism about the often-times chaotic world we live in.
1. Brave New World
Geeky research scientist Yoon Seok-woo disposes of a rotten apple, which is eventually mixed into recycled feed for cows. In an ironic twist of fate, Seok-woo and his date, Kim Yoo-min, consume the toxic beef that he was responsible of breeding.
Seok-woo and Yoo-min, as well as everyone else who has eaten the beef, quickly become flesh-eating zombies. If you think the trope “zombies-chasing-humans-through-ghost-town” is scary, consider the consequences of “zombies-attacking-youngsters-in-crowded-nightclub.” Terrifying, innit?
2. Heavenly Creature
A robot, created by the robotics corporation UR, becomes a Buddhist monk and claims to have reached Enlightenment. The company’s technician Park Do-won does not find any glitches with the robot, which frightens the UR chairman and prompts him to order the robot’s decommission.
The UR team arrive at the monastery, only to face resistance from Do-won and the Buddhist monks. The emotional attachment that the monks hold for the robot, as well as their respect for its supposed Enlightenment, raise the question of what it means to be human.
3. Happy Birthday
A young child named Park Min-Seo orders a 8 ball online to replace her father’s original, which she has damaged. Afraid to anger her pool-obsessed father, Min-Seo throws the damaged ball out the window and it falls mysteriously into a hole on the street.
Two years later, an asteroid plummets toward South Korea, and Min-Seo realizes that it looks like a giant version of the 8 ball she ordered. Like any dissatisfied customer, she tries to cancel her order online, but to no avail (sounds like a familiar online shopping experience, no?).
Has it caught your interest yet? There’s a reason this film has won the top prize at the 2012 Fantasia Festival, being honoured for its “intelligence and originality.”
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