The Anchor (2022) is Solid Korean Horror Despite Falling Apart in its Final Broadcast
Title: The Anchor
First Non-Festival Release: April 20, 2022 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Ji-Yeon Jung
Writer: Ji-Yeon Jung
Runtime: 111 Minutes
Starring: Woo-hee Chun, Sin Ha-kyun, Lee Hye-yeong
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Between her family troubles and stuffy workplace politics, Se-Ra (Woo-hee Chun) has enough to deal with already before she answers an incoming phone call at her news station job concerning anonymous tip about a double homicide. After some coaxing from her mother (Lee Hye-yeong), she decides to scope out the location given to her by the caller herself. Undeterred by the potential danger and thirsting for an opportunity to prove herself as a journalist, Se-Ra gets in over her head when she discovers the bodies of a mother and her daughter.
The Anchor is a compelling enough psychological horror film that is bogged down only by its increasingly clunky narrative.
Promising enough, this Korean chiller starts with a mysterious first act that sets the stage for something truly exciting. After its chilling cold open, The Anchor takes a few steps back to show the moments before a woman loses her life. Cue Se-Ra. Her celebrity status has made her many fans, including Mi-So, a woman who will tragically lose her life minutes after speaking with her. From here, the story unfolds in a traditional yet fun manner, enough to engage the attention of the audience. Se-Ra uncovers a twisted web within the case that includes a ride exploring hypnotism, childhood trauma, and bitter professional rivalries.
Instead of unfurling like a traditional procedural, Se-Ra exploits this tragedy as a calculated career move. With an impending merger threatening her position, Se-Ra knows that this is an opportunity she cannot take. She takes the time to find different angles to perceive the case, diverging from her colleagues seeking a more compassionate take. She decides to investigate further after her initial foray into the residence of Mi-So and uncovers new leads, of which her boss does not appreciate. With each action Se-Ra takes, she endangers herself and her career with the hard truths she will reveal to everyone, but mostly herself. All of this makes for a compelling narrative with an engaging hook: a complicated protagonist, a twisty mystery, and even some difficult moral dilemmas.
Sinking The Anchor, however, is its third act reveal and poor pacing. As the narrative unwinds it gets increasingly more laughable in terms of execution. Leaving plot holes large enough for a truck to run through and relying on outdated tropes, The Anchor fails to tie the strings together on its ambitious project. While it began as an intriguing and twisty horror mystery, The Anchor bungles its story by shoehorning an impossibly stupid explanation for the sequence of events. Not only does this contribute to an unknown unreliable narrator trope, it engenders a sense of betrayal for the viewer who could experience a much tighter and coherent story had this idea been excised.
Not all is lost thanks to its over-ambitious plot as The Anchor is a technically well-made movie.
Visually striking, Director Ji-Yeon Jung has an eye for satisfying sequences and beautiful locales that piece together the makeup of the film. The supernatural aspects of the film blends into the film seamlessly, making for a satisfying watch. A strong cast comprised of Woo-hee Chun, Sin Ha-kyun, and Lee Hye-yeong make the lengthier scenes tolerable and engaging. Chun manages the most with the wild script she is given and still delivers some effective scenes, even if it does verge on the melodramatic at times.
Had The Anchor followed through on its captivating opening, it would be much easier to recommend. Watching the film slowly lose steam over the course of its near two-hour runtime is painful. Thankfully, it still remains a fine film in the end. It conjures up enough scares before it goes bonkers in the third act and loses sight of its tone. Fans of Korean horror will find plenty to appreciate but may also find The Anchor generic compared to other genre releases in the country. Don’t let the ratings stop you from tuning into The Anchor on Screambox. Reports are saying that you are bound to find something sensational.
Overall Score? 6/10