Park Chan-wook names his 10 favourite thrillers

(Credit: Marie Claire Korea)


South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook is often cited as one of the most prominent practitioners of the thriller genre. Known for his works such as The Handmaiden and the acclaimed Vengeance trilogy, Park Chan-wook has established himself as an important voice within the ever-changing landscape of contemporary cinema.

Recently, Park Chan-wook became a major part of the current discourse surrounding global cinema after the premiere of his latest thriller at this year’s Cannes festival. Titled Decision to Leave, it garnered widespread critical acclaim, and Park Chan-wook won the coveted Best Director accolade.

In recent years, Park Chan-wook has expressed a desire to move away from the thriller genre and work on other domains such as sci-fi and westerns. However, he will always be an authority on thrillers, so we have compiled a list of ten chilling thrillers recommended by the revered South Korean director.

“One day, I saw Vertigo,” Park Chan-wook recalled. “During the movie, I found myself screaming in my head, ‘If I don’t at least try to become a film director, I will seriously regret it when I’m lying on my deathbed!’ After that, akin to James Stewart when he was blindly chasing after some mysterious woman, I searched aimlessly for some kind of irrational beauty.”

While talking about Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low, Park Chan-wook said: “I thought it would be good to see the movie first. Then I gave up. I thought, ‘No one can make kidnapping movies anymore’. I wanted to somehow chew his movie and digest it and make my own with the nutrients. But even if I couldn’t make a movie that surpassed him, I could at least try to make a movie that felt different from him.”

Check out the full list below.

Park Chan-wook’s 10 favourite thrillers:

  1. Ms. 45 (Abel Ferrara, 1981)
  2. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
  3. The Housemaid (Kim Ki-young, 1960)
  4. M (Fritz Lang, 1931)
  5. Memories of Murder (Bong Joon-ho, 2003)
  6. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
  7. High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963)
  8. Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg, 1988)
  9. Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)
  10. Seconds (John Frankenheimer, 1966)

Park Chan-wook also mentioned the seminal 1960 South Korean thriller The Housemaid, considered one of the greatest cinematic achievements in Korean history. The filmmaker cited Kim Ki-young’s masterpiece as a chief source of inspiration.

“He’s able to find and portray beauty in destruction, humour in violence and terror,” Park Chan-wook commented. “I’m still making films that are too modest compared to his, but I will continue to work hard to make films as daring and brave as his.”

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