Watch: “Influenza” by Bong Joon-ho

A film by Bong Joon-ho
28 minutes
Rent: $3.99 | Buy: $9.99

In 2000, South Korea’s Jeonju International Film Festival launched an annual digital project granting three filmmakers a 30-minutes-or-less window, tight budget, and the condition that their work be created with digital cameras and editing systems — no longer much of a novelty, but at the time something of a radical enforcement that brought forth the best short-form works of our time. Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer, this month’s Okja) joined their ranks in 2004 with Influenza, a startling 28-minute piece that stands in stark contrast against anything within his ever-expanding oeuvre. Such an impression should be clear from the first image — a security-camera perspective with which he’ll stay and off which he’ll orchestrate the characteristic tensions, twists, and brutal acts of violence — and only grows stronger the deeper we wade into his nightmare vision. Bong’s typical instances of levity are few and far between, and an extreme austerity only heightens the mystery, the shock of what unfolds. By film’s end you’ll be asking yourself, more than with any of his works, “What did I even see?”

Influenza shows what an ingenious filmmaker can do by setting himself a single, precise problem. Crossing the border between commercial fiction and avant-garde experimentation, the film deserves wider circulation.” – David Bordwell, Observations on Film Art

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