English spoken foreigners are stuck in Korea after an epidemic breaks out. Demons are roaming the streets, and the group have to struggle to stay hidden from them. Soon they find out what the government is planning, and they realize they can't continue to hide if they want to survive.
I'll get this out of the way. "Fear Eats the Seoul" is the debut feature of Nick Calder, and no matter what people's opinion is on the actual film in question they have to see what a great, slick production this is for a first-timer. It packs a lot of things that you rarely see in debuts, and while I don't know what he has spent his life doing before making this film I still feel that the production values and ideas in this film are much greater than most people's first films. It's extremely professional in most aspects, and I'll get more into details later on. That said, there will also be some negative things to bring up, but it's important to realize what a great effort this truly is.
"Fear Eats the Seoul" essentially shares most things with your typical zombie movie, but the monsters in this one aren't really zombies. Unlike some films that have questionable zombies, these are definitely not just brain-eaters. They're fast, vicious, with weird Joker-esque faces (made by scars/wounds) and huge claws on their hands. So they're not zombies, but the easiest comparision is with that genre. We have a number of English spoken people in Korea. Out main lady, for example, is an English teacher is Korea. They all have to take shelter once the city is over-run by these bloodthirsty demons that we don't really know much about. But when they stumble upon a Korean woman, she tells them that the government is planning to nuke the city to get rid of the infection that is spreading. The group realize they have to get out of there.
Like I said, it's a very zombie-ish story, but there is no question about the monsters - they are definitely not zombies. The movie is quite interesting, though, because while it is frequently action-filled already from the beginning, it feels more like a drama piece than horror/action. They often have to fight off these demons, and that brings a lot of stressful situations, but at the same time it focuses so much on the characters, their relationships and their backstories. This is both good and bad - I think the fact that it's basically the same from the beginning to start, going from action to drama and drama to action through-out, gets a bit boring. It doesn't have a build-up of the break-out because it's already there when we start the movie. We basically have to sit through the same stuff up until the end, and it gets tedious.
However, the stories that the characters tell are rather interesting and I think the idea is very interesting too. It's not easy to perfectly balance these things, and I think even though "Fear Eats the Seoul" is a bold attempt it doesn't really work for full 99 minutes. Had it been a more linear story, where it goes from early infection, to full infection and finally the escape, I would've been more involved in the entire story and its characters. When we are given too much too early, and it stays at that pace, it's hard for it to be exciting through-out.
I really liked the action scenes, though. The demons are simple but still very interesting to watch - they come off as rather animalistic and that's just great, and a lot more scary. The action scenes are shot in handheld so it does get a bit shakey at times, but overall I feel that they work well. You can say these scenes could vary a bit more as you can almost figure out what will happen.
The acting goes from bad to great, and that was a bit annoying. I think the narration was top class, but many of the lines spoken in dialogue feel misplaced at times. I couldn't really feel for the main lady, she seemed a bit like a prude and wasn't very relatable, and that does hurt the film a bit as well. I don't know if she was written this way or if it's something that came out of the actress, but it made it even more tedious to get through.
"Fear Eats the Seoul" isn't fantastic and the reason for that is because it stays too much the same during the entire movie. The character backstories work, but the present time isn't going through many changes and it tends to get boring at times. But the film overall is both visually great and ambitious, and I have to congratulate Nick Calder for his creation. It's a lot bigger and professional than expected, and there's no cheesiness to be found except for a few lines here and there. I think it's a lot better than majority of zombie/vampire movies of recent years, and Nick Calder is definitely a perfect balance of artist and horror movie director. This means that he has all the potential in the world to achieve great things in his future endeavors.