Marui Video (2023) Review
The new Korean found footage film Marui Video (마루이 비디오) opens with a statement telling us that what we are about to see was edited from footage found in a van belonging to documentary filmmaker Kim Su-chan (Seo Hyun-woo, The Man Standing Next, Spiritwalker). The van was found near a temple in Busan, Kim is still missing.
Kim and his crew were working on a story about a murder that occurred in 1992. A man killed his girlfriend in a Busan motel, filming the entire act. The video was said to be so brutal it’s been locked away in storage ever since, deemed too shocking to be released to the public. Kim, along with reporter Eun Hee (Jo Min-kyung, Severance Pay, Secret Zoo), a cameraman (Ahn Hyun-bin, Svaha: The Sixth Finger, Peninsula) begins to search for the tape.
Writer/director Yoon Joon-Hyeong (Fatal Intuition) deviates from the standard formula by not having Marui Video center around the search for the tape.It, or rather a copy filmed from the courthouse monitor, turns up early in the film but it raises more questions than it answers. Most importantly, why was the killer acting so strangly, and who or what cast the reflection glimpsed in the mirror?
Much of what follows from here is structured as a mockumentary with the edited footage following the crew as they journey down a rabbit hole trying to answer those questions. There are the usual literal dead ends, the prosecutor died of a chronic disease, the killer committed suicide before his scheduled parole, and others like the victim’s parents are understandably unwilling to be interviewed.
But then the owner of the hotel provides a connection to the killing of a family in a now deserted house and from there things begin getting progressively stranger. In the first act it’s a slow progression however, built around evidence from investigations into the murders and occasional interviews rather than the usual ghost hunter scenarios, as a result, Marui Video feels more like a true crime documentary than a horror film.
But once they visit the “Ami House” things take a turn to the supernatural and the film starts to take on a much darker and creepier tone. There’s a night visit to the house with a shaman, and the possibility of possession is raised. That sets up the final act which the film tags specifically as “found footage” and seems a lot more raw than the footage that made up the first hour.
As these kinds of films go, Marui Video isn’t bad. It’s a fairly slow burn, Yoon Joon-Hyeong paces the film nicely and gives the viewer just enough to keep them interested without either giving to much away or leaving them feeling lost. Granted that slips a bit in the final minutes when it becomes hard to tell just what’s going on due to the shakiness of the camera.
While that final footage is when the film becomes more active and horrific, I actually found the slower paced first hour more interesting. It’s put together quite well with one incident leading to the next in a way that feels logical even if what is uncovered is another mystery. It can also be fairly subtle about things, with images showing up in the dark corners of the film’s frames.
The last half hour of Marui Video tosses that aside in favour of lots of frenzied running around with all the shaky cam footage that implies as well as scenes that leave you wondering why they kept filming rather than running or protecting themselves. But those are problems that will always haunt the genre. If you’re looking for a found footage fix and don’t mind subtitles, this should do the trick.
Marui Video was released to theatres in Korea and Indonesia earlier this year. It’s currently available via Apple TV in the US, UK, Canada and a handful of other countries, you can keep an eye on JustWatch for more availabilities. And if you want to find more footage, FilmTagger can make some suggestions.