Not since David Fincher’s Zodiac has a film been so completely devoted to revealing the failures of social institutions confronted with unimaginable evil. The South Korean film The Chaser envisions these failures as a devastating series of miscommunications, moments of mistrust, and massive unaccountability, all enabling a diabolical serial killer to continue murdering without serious consequence.
The endless red tape, procedures, distractions, and ulterior motives of the police and politicians confound the personal investigation of an ex-cop/pimp investigating the recent disappearances of his working girls. Director Na Hong-jin creates a complex system of doubt in his conflicted protagonist, who after catching the killer early on in the film believes him to be lying about the heinous crimes in order to cover up a human trafficking operation. It’s this collective disbelief that provides a window into how such terror can fester under the surface for so long in a society riddled with political fear and social angst. The Chaser brutally realizes a killer’s horrific playground deeply rooted in the oblivious city-scape he hides within, a scary thought for all modern civilizations unable to transcend their own social hierarchies and protect their citizens, no matter the class.