K-Movie

New Normal review: Cynical, obscure film infused with doses of dry humour

Everyone and everything is interconnected in New Normal, a satire piece that touches on the hellish reality of today.

Esther Low

| January 30, 2024
New Normal
Choi Min-ho of SHINee plays lonely university student Hoon in New Normal. Photo: Shaw Theatres

There is more than meets the eye. Nothing and no one is as it seems in the new South Korean thriller film New Normal.

The 113-minute film documents the lives of different individuals across four days. Set in 2022 Seoul, where eating alone has become the new normal, it depicts how the lives of six different people intertwine in unforeseen and unsettling ways.

In six segments, the film demonstrates the precariousness of living alone and details the varying hardships that these characters experience. 

Compelling cast, acclaimed director 

New Normal is the brainchild of writer-director Jung Bum-shik, who lent his expertise in helming the production of this omnibus thriller film. It is a cynical, obscure movie infused with doses of dry humour.

Familiar faces headline the show, with each fronting one story. Joining famous director Jung Bum-shik is a compelling cast line-up. New Normal stars Choi Ji-woo, Lee Yoo-mi, Choi Min-ho of SHNee, P.O, Ha Da-in and rookie child actor Jung Dong-won.

New Normal
Lee Yu-mi plays Hyun-Soo, a jobseeker and someone looking for a relationship. Photo: Shaw Theatres

Unexpected plot twists

The movie opens with news of victims stabbed by a serial killer, perhaps a foreshadowing of what will unfold. Choi Ji-woo plays the beautiful resident Hyun-jung who lives alone, and she later comes face to face with a handyman who creeps her out.

Serial killer newsflash and a suspicious handyman — I thought I had the plot down right from the get-go. But I was not prepared for the first plot twist that hit me.

The film’s first chapter laid the foundation for the show, almost. It was the beginning of unpacking its layers and unveiling the facades of everyday people in the new normal. Like a book, the movie flips its pages back and forth across each character’s different days and lives. 

Fate and love

The theme of fate and love made an appearance in the fourth chapter Be With You.

Choi Min-ho from the renowned K-pop idol group SHINee takes the reins for this tale as college student Yoo Hoon, who is actively in search of love.

However, he does not believe in the dating conditions of horoscopes and blood types. This kick-started an adorable treasure hunt, but little did I imagine that the step of faith he took would lead him towards a harrowing situation — the gravest mistake of his life.

Afterthoughts

Everyone and everything is interconnected in New Normal, a satire piece that touches on the hellish reality of today and the ugly side of humanity.

The movie ingeniously interlaced the stories of six diverse humans, and is well pieced together. It leverages on dark humour at times and effectively depicts life’s intricacies. Furthermore, the film highlights the dark inevitabilities of reality, making it undoubtedly convincing and refreshing to watch.

New Normal is screening in local cinemas from 25 Jan. 

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