Steel Cold Winter is the story of a introverted girl named Hae won (Kim Yoon Hye), who lives alone with her father in a small town far from the South Korean capitol. Rumors are rife about the town that Hae won is having an incestous relationship with her mentally unstable father, thus making them both pariahs in the neighborhood. It doesn’t help that she mysteriously knows about secrets about the townsfolk that no one knows about. When Yon Soo (Kim Shi Hoo) arrives to town, he is immediately intrigued by Hae won, whom he observes skating on the town’s frozen lake. Yon Soo, who is dealing with his own issues about a friend’s death, suffers from weird noises in his ear, and flashbacks from his past which only Hae won understands.
I was initially drawn to this movie, which premiered at the Busan Film Festival late 2013 because of the darkness of the tone of the movie, which in my opinion is a good sign for any decent horror.
As the movie progressed, Director Choi Jin Sung made good use of ominous background music that helped in establishing the loneliness of both the characters and because they are good looking young Korean stars, they carry with them a certain appeal that tugs at the audience.
That being said, the story was pretty straightforward, but it took its pretty time with a really slow pacing that mostly centered around misleading dialogue and late night meetings between the two characters bathed by the moonlight in the woods where no teenager (or adult) should be at any late hour.
Sure, there were attempts to throw off the audience into thinking that there was something supernatural or paranormal at play, with the hallucinations that Yon Soo suffered from but at the core of the story was something more disturbing and dark that will surely turn the audiences’ stomach because it dealt with sexual abuse…. of a minor.
I thought Steel Cold Winter was actually a good movie but it was really slow and depressing, which works as a plus and a minus in this film. The slowness of the pacing and the overall sense of forebording may put some viewers to sleep because it seemed to drone on in a single tone throughout the movie. If they were watching on cable like I was, it might compel them to switch channels. On the other hand, the treatment was so haunting that viewers would want to find out more about the mystery. There were tons of foreshadowing peppered throughout the movie which I believe paid off in the end. It took a huge amount of risk for filmmakers but I thought they were able to pull it off quite nicely.
All in all, I would say liking Steel Cold Winter is a matter of taste. For me though, I thought that the film was creepy and weird and disturbing and when the twist is eventually revealed, gross as heck. More sad than horrific, especially because the main characters were so young, the final scenes will haunt viewers who stick around for the ending.