Before I get into reviewing this I want to make it clear that none of the content being reviewed in this post is suitable for children and even for adults is probably going to be confronting. Anyone who has been following the copious posts about Killing Stalking on Twitter probably already know that, but just giving everyone else fair warning.
Violence and sex and trauma. That’s probably the best description chapter 8 is going to get. It works aswell as the other chapters so far at drawing you in, delaying reveals, building tension, but it certainly hits you with enough different atrocities that by the end of the chapter it would be hard to say you were in a good head space. Of course, it didn’t help my journey through the chapter that they managed a hold his head under water scenario. This was nowhere near as graphic as some of the other incidents but it pushes my panic buttons so that was when I started feeling a just a bit sick in the stomach.
We continue from where we left off in chapter 7 with Yoon Bum finally opening the door to reveal Sangwoo. Sangwoo calmly sitting and waiting for Yoon Bum. He says he was hoping that Yoon Bum wouldn’t come out, but that’s hard to believe really given the set-up in the basement is ready to go. What makes this encounter truly memorable is that Sangwoo let’s Yoon Bum fall down the stairs and claw his way to the gate, he even holds the gate open while Yoon Bum crawls into the street. Sangwoo stands over him and actually calls out for help with Yoon Bum, knowing of course that no one will hear and no one will care. Sangwoo likes to play. The game is far more fun for him when he dangles just that tiniest ray of hope before snatching it away.
Then again, part of this seems to stem from some real trust issues. It does seem at times this chapter that Sangwoo was genuinely hoping somewhere inside that Yoon Bum loved him and hadn’t been lying to him. The mixture of his own anger at that tiny hope he hadn’t even really been aware of being crushed and his genuine enjoyment of causing others pain leads to some very uncomfortable following scenes.
You wanted to know, right? What I wanted…
This chapter gets a lot more phsycial. Yoon Bum is beaten when he resists being carried back into the house. He is beaten again in the basement and nearly strangled when being suspended from the ceiling. He is dropped from the ceiling to the floor (remembering his legs were broken not so long ago). He is held under water by the rope that had been used before to suspend him. And he is cut. Remember the threat about what would happen if he tried to leave?
Through all of this physical abuse we see something truly strange transpiring as Yoon Bum both hates Sangwoo and wants to escape him and still desperately clings to him and believes that he might actually be special to him. Yoon Bum calling out Sangwoo’s name to save him while he is choking actually turns Sangwoo on and while Yoon Bum is saved, the complex emotions are unresolved.
Then we finally get to the end of the chapter where it seems that Sangwoo has decided the game needs another player. A man, picked up at a club, is unceremoniously tossed into the basement and the question becomes, what will Sangwoo do next?
This story continues to hit all the right notes as a psychological thriller and despite being outright uncomfortable at times in terms of content, the characterisation and pacing remain pretty flawless as it conveys this fairly tragic tale. I honestly wonder though how much longer you can continue this scenario before it feels like it is dragging but for now, every scene and moment feels like it has been perfectly place for maximum emotional impact.
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