With no chance of redemption, Kim Ki-young gives us the lives of 5 unsympathetic characters who steadily grow into mutations of their already monstrous selves. The story revolves around a husband and father of two, whose wife's business success has left him feeling emasculated and unable to perform sexually. He spends his nights at a local bar and when he becomes unwilling to pay his rather high tab, the bar owner suggests to the waitress that she sleep with him in order to retrieve the money.
The waitress is reluctant at first as she is a virgin with what appears to be high moral standards. But after the bar owner makes her drink an entire glass of whiskey she is taken out of the bar and raped in the man's car. After being raped, this formerly innocent girl immediately suggests that they live together at which point she wrecks havoc on everyone's lives in the process.
Carnivorous Animal is an extension of Kim's other work and tells a very similar story, but in this movie he seems to pushing the boundaries of drama and filmmaking further -- but to little effect. The move is dark, strange, and funny at different points including murder, rape, men in diapers, and a very strange massage scene. I would typically say that the effect of combining the extreme of these elements in a film would be distracting, but in Carnivorous Animal, I am never entirely sure what Kim is distracting us from. While it is thematically similar to some of his previous work, the characters are developed so flimsily that we can only revel in their craziness.
As in Kim's other work, he presents us with a man who has not much to offer along with the women who are fighting for his control. The identity of the female characters is strong. They are independent and making their own decisions, but ultimately, they become monsters. Also, while I can theoretically understand the time and place in which a raped woman would seek the care of her rapist, the way in which Kim depicts his rape victims is just too cavalier. There is no development or process given to the victim, there is simply a rape and an immediate desire to love and care for the rapist.
As always, thanks to the Korean Film Archive's YouTube channel, we can watch this film online with English and Korean subtitles. Thank you Korean Film Archive!