This is part of our coverage of the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival.
First-time director Kim Gwangtae delivers a fresh take on the “Pied Piper of Hamelin” with his visceral film The Piper. Set in the hinterlands of Korea in the war-torn 1950s, the film begins with a devoted father and son traversing the country in hopes of finding a cure for the boy’s tuberculosis. The pair (played wonderfully by Ryu Seungryong and the absolutely adorable Goo Seunghyeon) stumble upon a hidden village that knows no news of the outside world and eyes their new arrivals with unease. In an effort to ingratiate themselves with the locals, the father offers to rid the town of their rampant rat infestation.
In the early going, The Piper plays it light with goofy antics and the building of a budding romance. But like the smoke used to run out the rats, darkness creeps through the narrative’s cracks long before the fatal finale. And by its conclusion, The Piper has become a gruesome tale of vengeance that would make Park Chanwook or Quentin Tarantino proud. There will be blood. And there will be rats feasting on it.