LOST In Translation

I am a horror fan. I've been one since I was a child watching that severed hand arising from the ooze at the beginning of the Chiller Horror Movie on Saturday nights. Yep that was scary stuff indeed. Could be that my childhood fascination with horror was derived from a dysfunctional upbringing. However that's a story for another time.

I got turned on to Asian horror when my friend sent me a copy of the movie the diabolical and skilfully directed: Odishon [Audfition- 1999] directed by Takashi Miike. A piece of filmmaking that goes even further than the films of Italy's master of the macabre Dario Argento. 


  WATCH Audition Movie

So naturally my curiosity was piqued and I went searching and found and even earlier movie titled 301/302 which was directed by and is a Korean horror movie offers a feminist twist in that it centers on two female protagonists living next door to each other in a high-rise apartment building. The title refers to their respective apartment numbers. The story opens as one of the women, a compulsive cook, is being questioned about the mysterious disappearance of her neighbor, the other woman, a traumatized writer suffering from anorexia nervosa. 

In the movie Compulsion, in order to give perspective on Amy's emotional state, you should know that Amy is pretending to have a cooking show in her home kitchen (complete with an imaginary live audience). 

Amy has apparently been doing this for some time as her boyfriend Fred (played by Kevin Dillon) reluctantly finances the seemingly endless remodeling of her kitchen. Apparently Amy believes that she will be offered a cooking show, but the viewer never sees anything happening in Amy's life that would result in her appearing on television.

One day a Detective Reynolds arrives and asks Amy about her neighbor, Saffron Nelson who lives across the hall. Amy seems shocked that Saffron has gone missing, but is unable to provide Detective Reynolds with information. 

See once a child star Saffron, is now a struggling actress looking for a comeback, she supplements ts her income writing a column in a glamor magazine. 

Not faring much better, Amy feels unfulfilled by Fred [her boyfriend], who appears to appreciate his bird Sebastian more than he does Amy.  

The day Amy sees Saffron in the hall is like a dream come true.  Soon she knocks on Saffron's door and gives her some mail she has "mistakenly" received and we know that Amy recognized Saffron. We also know that she is a fan.

I remember seeing Graham in Gray Matters, but I was impressed with the view of Graham as domestic "Sexpot." Are you kidding me? Heather and her "Girls" give us "Breasticles." Notice that a successful display of a"Breasticles" always reveals the right amount of cleavage.


Lena Dunham should take notice of the old adage: "Less Is MORE."

Amy later tries to give the Saffron some of her latest gastronomic creation, which Saffron later throws away. 

Amy learns of the tragic reasons behind Saffron's condition. In the original version, secrets from the chef's past are also revealed.  In the remake, I didn't get that. Sure Amy speaks of rejection but the viewer isn't drawn into her story enough to develop empathy for her character.

Neither is the viewer led to understand  why Saffron asks for help or what leads Amy to consider such a grisly final solution to end Saffron's continual pain. Instead we are given privvy to a lesbian sex scene that is reminiscent of a 1970's porno, complete with an un-mitigated soundtrack.


 Whereas 301/302 is a compelling mystery, in the process of telling a story, that examines the elemental nature of food and its symbolism. Compulsion is a quasi comedic mix flailing but failing to grasp meaning and substance.

 For  example: Amy eloquently describes every meal she prepares. Yet leaves viewers at a loss to understand that when Amy catches Fred feeding his coworker at a restaurant (he is cheating on Amy), that she is more anygry because of the pedestrian quality of their meal.

The tone is supposed to be one of comic horror, and the plot is driven by a killing, yet I didn't find it very funny. In fact  the most alarming element in the original film (to a much lesser extent in the remake), was some of the dishes served.

I rewatched 301/302 because I wanted to see why I take some movies so damn seriously.



301/302 raises and answers the hard questions about the complex issue of woman, love and food in the personification of two strange yet believable female characters. 301/302 delights and disturbs and therein lies the rub, because Compulsion does neither.


Contact Form


Email *

Message *