VIFF 2021 Review: Sinkhole

Written by Alexander Reams


There is always the calm before the storm. Peace before the war, silence before the rooster begins screaming and wakes me up from my lovely sleep, then the ensuing cursing of the rooster and attempting to return to my sleep. The latter being the case of the Korean master of disaster, Kim Ji-hoon’s latest film, Sinkhole. Park Dong-won has saved money for over a decade to buy a nice home for his family in the capital of South Korea, Seoul. Shaking off a few peculiarities the family notices in their new home until this culminates in a housewarming party for the Dong-won family when the building collapses into a pit and those who remain try to survive and escape their new, less than desirable abode. 

The most common issue with disaster films is that the characters never come first, always the destruction and death, which leads to emotionally void films that we never care about unless we turn our brains off. Ji-hoon goes the opposite route here, putting characters and their relationships with one another first, at least for the beginning, however that development is far and beyond better than your average disaster film. Once that first crack in the floor hits nothing but the bare minimum character development follows. An unfortunate reality for the film after that fantastic beginning.

The destruction is well filmed and the visual effects employed are fantastic, better than most superhero films. However, the destruction gets to a point that I never cared when another piece of rubble fell and almost killed a character. I never cared if they survived or not because all of the development was null and void after the building was destroyed. That was Dong-won’s entire goal of the film and it went away all too quickly. The runtime of this film is not too short or too long but misused. Too much time is put towards destruction and the race to survival, instead of actual and meaningful character development. Mismanagement of time just like the mismanagement of where the building was built.

Sinkhole Trailer

Sinkhole was screened as part of the 2021 edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival.

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