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GP506 (AKA Guard Post) (2008) October 13, 2009

Posted by Cal in : Horror, Thriller, 2000s films , add a comment

Director: Kong Su-chang  Main cast: Jeon Ho-jin; Lee Young-hoon; Lee Jeong-heon; Cho Hyun-jai  Territory: South Korea

gp506.jpgSomething or someone has killed the soldiers stationed at Guard Post 506, an outpost situated near the border between South Korea and its hostile northern neighbour.  Sergeant Noh (Jeon Ho-jin) and his team go to the site to piece together what went wrong, and uncover a bizarre tale of infection and insanity. 

GP506 (retitled Guard Post in the west) has similar themes as certain films in the body horror sub genre, and occasionally reminded me of the much derided Shyamalan film The Happening.  It’s surprisingly not an all-out horror movie though; for most part it plays like a detective thriller, albeit with gory mutilations and unnatural food cravings.

The story is told in a series of flashbacks, and this can sometimes be a problem as it’s not always clear if you’re watching past events or the present.  When a survivor is found from the original team and helps to start putting the pieces together, we get a series of glimpses into the mystery.  Noh also finds and reads diary entries to shed light on the affair.  Other clues suggest Corporal Kang (Lee Young-hoon) may have been unstable and killed the rest of his team. 

Things are never quite what they seem, and the story twists and turns with new elements being introduced that challenge the viewers’ assumptions.  As with most films of this nature, it works better with as little prior knowledge as possible. 

While GP506 is a competently made film (the production values are high throughout), there was something about it that didn’t quite grab me.  Although the film moves quite slowly, I think the main problem is I never really cared about any of the characters and their plight.  The structure and feel of the film is also similar to a lot of modern shockers and doesn’t really stand out from the crowd.

However, the setting is good and occasionally recalls classic films set in remote locations such as John Carpenter’s The Thing.  There’s also a very real possibility the whole film is an allegorical comment on the cold war and the paranoia between the divided Korea. 

But while the film is quite watchable, I have to admit a feeling quite underwhelmed by the whole thing.  Perhaps if the characters were a bit more engaging and the plotting a little tighter, this could have been a lot better.  As it stands, though, GP506 is only mildly diverting.

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