Say Yes (세이 예스, Kim Sung-hong: 2001)

Celebrating a publishing deal and their first wedding anniversary, young couple Jeong-hyun and Yun-hie decide to take a few days away to spend some time together. Their journey is interupted by an incident with a drfiter who asks to them to give him a lift to their destination – at which point the journey takes a dark turn as the couple find that they might not be able to rid themselves of the guy just by dropping him at the side of the road…

Essentially a Korean remake of the 1986 U.S. film The Hitcher with elements of Steven Spielbergs Duel and a well known serial killer thrown in for good measure, Say Yes is an unashamedly trashy horror flick – and is all the better for it. This would be straight to DVD stuff had this been made in the West (cue a big budget Hollywood remake to make me eat my words), but Say Yes is fun stuff. Sure, it’s fun with a mean spirit and with plenty of  blood, but it gets straight down to business and pretty much doesn’t let up.

Jeong-hyun and Yun-hie – the unlucky couple who unwittlingly become the focus of the hitchhikers obsession – are played fairly solidly by Choo Sang-mi and Kim Ju-hyuk. Likeable enough and equipped with just enough strength and frustation to ensure they’re not just pushed around like a couple of softies, Choo Sang-mi and Kim Ju-hyuk are just as effective in making Say Yes work as Park Joong-Hoon’s looney tunes hitchhiker. It’s the frustrastrations that the couple endure that keep us watching. The central psycho would be pretty ineffective if we didn’t care about the people he’s freaking out, so, luckily, for all of its b-movie plotting and nastiness Say Yes takes the time and effort to give us a couple to root for.

So, speaking of Park Joong-hoon, the flipside to the ‘nice’ couple in Say Yes is his unhinged hickhiker and he most definitely gives us someone strong to root against as he goes all out in the role. While he’s no Rutger Hauer (the comparison is inevitable as both the film and role are so close to The Hitcher), Joong-hoon goes so overboard as to be dangerously close to edging into the comical. It’s a fine line, but it largely sticks on the side of disturbing and while this type of psycho character is nowadays fairly commonplace, there’s a few stand out moments that do catch you off guard. From his first dead-faced stare, to his shit eating grin after the couple hit back, Park manages to pull just a little something out of the role that’s genuinely disturbing. It might just be the case that instead of filling out any full characterisation Em (the hitchhiker) is so roughly drawn that he comes across as so unpredictable. Or maybe it’s just that dead-eyed stare.

Okay, so suffice to say, Say Yes is pretty basic stuff, but if you’re looking for a ‘couple tormented by a sick psycho’ flick, then it’s certainly not a bad choice. Just be prepared for some deju vu if you’ve seen any of the films it borrows (steals) so generously from, and make sure you have a strong stomach for its aggressiveness and copius buckets of blood. It’s fun but it’s not pretty…

세이 예스 (Say Yes)
Directed by Kim Sung-hong
Produced by Hwang Gi-seong
Written by Yeo Hye-young
Starring Choo Sang-mi, Kim Ju-hyuk, Park Joong-Hoon, Gi Ju-bong, Lee Chan-young

Say Yes Image © Hwang Ki Seong Production