It all begins like something of ghost story: a young girl experiences a frightening, supernatural sight, as a ghastly man with only the whites in his eyes terrifies her in her bed. It is revealed, however, to have been a dream, and young Ji-hyo awakens with a start and leaps from her bed, runs to her mother and embraces her, telling her of the nightmare she just had where there was something wrong with Daddy’s eyes. But Korean director Jiwon Moon’s short film Nose Nose Nose EYES! has no supernatural bones in its chilling body, and most of the horror it adeptly imbues into its bloodstream is all derived from a broken family and their own voracious greed. It’s an exceedingly creepy film at only fourteen minutes in length, but it will stay comfortably situated under your skin for much longer after it’s done.
Once little Ji-hyo (Jayeong Kim) has been halfheartedly comforted from her bad dream by her cold mother, Hyeon-woo (Juyeong Lee), and assured that Daddy’s (Jeongse Oh) eyes are perfectly fine, that he’s sick and needs his rest, they receive a call from Hyeon-woo’s brother-in-law. It’s after this phone call that we learn that not only are the family receiving a fair amount insurance money from Daddy’s newest illness (enough that this brother-in-law wants a cut of the profits), but that this isn’t the first time they’ve acquired money through Daddy catching a bad break. Hyeon-woo lies to the brother-in-law about where she and her daughter are, and he soon comes around to their house, banging on the doors and windows searching desperately for the two of them as they sit eating fruit in silence.
He eventually gives up and departs, and Hyeon-woo leaves Ji-hyo alone in the living room (right after calling the little girl a “fucking bitch”) when Ji-hyo’s finds her curiosity getting the better of her. She sneaks into her bedridden father’s room to find him physically restrained to his bed, tied up at the legs with his wrists tied to the bed posts and unconscious with an oxygen mask covering his face. She awakens him and he desperately asks her if she’s eaten anything, then pleads with her to leave and find the brother-in-law she was just instructed to hide from. It is here Ji-hyo suddenly realizes that her home life is not as wholesome and safe as she had thought, and she hides under her father’s bed when her mother decides to make a disturbing appearance in his bedroom, with the help of a sharp and decorative pin.
There is so much to be found unsettling in Nose Nose Nose EYES even beyond the haunting story or the characters we cannot ever fully trust. The camerawork is constantly letting you know that the home you are in is not a safe one, with shots that linger a little too long on doors or windows, and a darkness that is constantly sweeping the scenery. While watching the film, it feels abundantly clear that our glimpse into this world is not one we’re supposed to be seeing; trespassing somewhere we don’t belong, a situation we are powerless to give aid to. Despite not being a ghost story, our characters feel very much like ghosts, stricken by a special kind of illness that has overtaken them and created a fissure between them and the living – forever trapped in this haunted house where they first splintered their own humanity. It is something we won’t ever fully grasp beyond the pieces sprinkled about like a breadcrumb trail, but what has been given has already been far too much.
Nose Nose Nose EYES! plays at Final Girls Film Festival in Berlin on February 3rd.
by Brianna Zigler
Brianna Zigler is a graduate in Film-Video and Writing from Penn State University with big plans and not a lot of planning. She is passionate about film and writing about film and also talking about film but can’t really decide which she wants to do with her life, but it’s not a big deal (that’s future Brianna’s problem). She loves horror, absurdism, Twin Peaks, is a die-hard Wes Anderson fan, and currently has almost 250 movies in her watchlist. Her favorite films are What We Do in the Shadows, A Serious Man, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Swiss Army Man, and Suspiria. She met Greg Sestero once and it was weird. You can follow her on Twitter @briannazigs