While the Korean war is running on its last legs, Woo-ryong leaves with his sick son on a journey to the capital in the hope of treating his tuberculosis; The road is long and dangerous, with starvation ever around the corner. And then they stumble upon a settlement in the mountains. Father and son only want a bit of food, warmth and shelter, but the reception they receive from the inhabitants is more like a cold shower. Woo-ryong discovers that the place is cursed with a plague of flesh-eating rats who do not even recoil from nibbling at babies. Fortunately, he’s just the guy they need. He proposes to use his unique skills to rid the village of the carnivorous rodents. In return he wants them to treat his son. But the sting is in the tail, and we’re not talking about a rat’s tail.

The Pied Piper, the notorious fairytale by the Brothers Grimm, has often been adapted to the big screen, notably by Jacques Demy. But this Korean version of the story that has given sleepless nights to generations of children clearly rises above the rest. The feature debut of Kwang-tae Kim excels in the wondrous and the macabre, giving the tale a modern makeover while remaining true to its gruesome spirit. Kim injects ever more horror into the story, building up to a horrific finale that will nail you to your seats.

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