Writer-director Park Jung-woo’s Deranged (a box-office smash in South Korea), is an updated twist on “nature’s revenge” horror flicks in which the body count mounts as some malformed creature wreaks havoc on the innocent—or, relatively innocent, as that creature’s existence comes thanks to human malfeasance. In this case, horsehair worms – who normally make hosts of insects – have mutated, turning men, women, and children into their meals. When they’re done feasting and are ready to breed, they leave their hosts withered and lifeless. At the center of the terror is Jae-hyeok (Kim Myung-min), a disgraced ex-professor reduced to shilling for a third-rate pharmaceutical company after a bad tip from his ne’er do-well cop brother Jae-pil (Kim Dong-wan) costs him and his young family their life savings. The relationship between the estranged brothers and their respective families, provides the film’s heart, but it’s Park’s finesse with the horror template – the earnest young scientist going toe-to-toe with the steely bureaucrat; the mass of zombie-like victims mobbing the streets; the tense ticking of the clock as Jae-hyeok races to find a cure for his infected family – that makes Deranged a solid popcorn flick. Yes, there are messages about the callousness of big business and the recurring foolishness of man tampering with nature, but they’re never didactic, and they never overwhelm the film’s escapist thrills.

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