TREASURE HUNT GAME by MINGU KANG

Directed by Mingu Kang / Reviewed by Adva Reichman

Did your mom ever warn you about speaking to strangers? What about being alone in the park,where kids should be able to run free and play? What should a little girl do when a strange man comes her way? Treasure Hunt Game won’t answer your questions. Instead it’ll keep you asking more and guessing the answers until the very end.   

You think you know where this film is going, but the director, Mingu Kang, tricks you and makes you follow a different story path. Heleaves you with bread crumbs to follow, and you should take note, so you can eventually understand the sad truth. Only when you’ll look back, you fully connect the dots and realize what has happened.

Treasure Hunt Game is a short thriller which follows two young kids, society’s most vulnerable and defenselessmembers, as they meet in a playground. After a short exchange Eunjung, the little girl, suggests they play a treasure hunt game. Mingu, the little boy, agrees without knowing the treasure they really seek holds a greater significance than he can ever imagine.

The film opens with the little girl playing by herself in the park when an older man approaches her and verifies she is indeed alone. The girl will later use the same line on the little boy she meets, which might get you to think it’s all part of some game. But is it?

After the girl’s encounter with the older man, we see her lying in what for a moment can be mistaken as a bodybag. When she moves it, we realize it’s just a raincoat and that she is okay. Calm and measured, she takes out a lollipop and fixes herself. Candy and strangers is never a match you want to see, but then she meets the little boy, and all feels fine again.

The young kids, Eunjung and Mingu, played by the adorable Yu Seojin and Yang Jinseo, don’t give the audience a clear sense of danger which helps toy with our thoughts. But the direction style and cinematography could have upped the eeriness one would expect to find in this type of thriller. And thus, keep the viewers on their toes.Although I do wish those would have come more into play, in a way, the lack of it helps the director confuse the viewers as to what is really going on.

The atmosphere feels almost casual, and it is the viewers’ job to find the abnormalities in the “normal” setting. The candy, the rain, the bruising – those all make sense in a kid’s playground.However, when you realize another truth is threatening to demolish the children’s innocence, you feel the tension whether you want to or not.   

As the kids embark on their hunt and dig through the sand, you find yourself wondering what they’ll find, not realizing your interest will soon fade into fear.

The director did a good job keeping his audience intrigued, and as an editor he keptthe story at a good pace. The score comes in only in certain crucial moments and thus enhances the severity of the scene.

Treasure Hunt Game is a delightful short thriller that is bound to make you worried, tense and fearful. All the great things one can expect from a well-done thriller. Go watch.

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