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‘Unlocked’ Review: A Surveillance Thriller Best Left Offline

A woman experiences paranoia, loss and bodily danger after a serial killer hacks her phone.

By Jagan SPublished 3 months ago 4 min read

Unlocked, a Korean thriller directed by Kim Tae-joon, features Paranoia, the chilling protagonist and a serial killer. He takes pleasure in using his victims' smartphones to wreak havoc on their lives before brutally murdering them. In the past, killers resorted to methods such as throwing victims into pits or attacking them in dark alleys. However, the advent of modern technology has provided deranged minds with a whole new range of creative options for committing heinous crimes. Unlocked, now streaming on Netflix, serves as a cautionary tale and a metaphor for the dangerous consequences of technology falling into the wrong hands. Let's watch the movie to find out.

Stream it or Skip it

The Gist: The Korean thriller "Na-mi" directed by Kim Tae-joon, begins with a day in the life of Na-mi (Chun Woo-hee), which is depicted from the perspective of her phone. The day is filled with music, selfies, social media, and food, among other things. After a long, eventful day, Na-mi retires to bed with a heavy buzz. However, when she wakes up, she realizes that her phone is missing, and she panics. We, the audience, know where the phone is, as the camera was with it on the bus's floor, and a pair of highly suspicious shoes were nearby. The shoes belong to Jun-yeong (Im Si-wan), a weird and introverted loner.

When Na-mi calls her phone using a friend's phone, Jun-yeong answers but disguises his voice using a fake app to prevent his identification. Before we see the rest of Jun-yeong's convoluted plan to install spyware and a tracking device in Na-mi's phone to monitor her every move, we cut to the discovery of a dead body in the woods. We witness police detective Ji-man (Kim Hee-won) investigating the death. Meanwhile, Na-mi works in her father's cafe and does marketing for a startup. Jun-yeong takes advantage of her work environment to masquerade as a lover of plum juice and stalk her. Additionally, he can destroy her startup, which she loves, using the power he has over every app on her phone.

As the plot unfolds, Ji-man suspects that his estranged son may be the murderer, and Jun-yeong's sociopathic tendencies become increasingly evident. He abducts and tortures Na-mi's father, poses as a tech guy to fix her hacked phone, and drives a wedge between Na-mi and her best friend. Ji-man is conflicted but continues to investigate the murders, and the body count continues to rise. Jun-yeong turns out to be a classic monologuer, and Na-mi fights not only for her life but also for her ability to compulsively post on Instagram once again.


What films will it bring to mind?: Unlocked falls somewhere between Kimi, a neo-tech thriller, and Unfriended, a phone/tech-based horror film.

Execution Worth Watching: Chun Woo-hee gives a performance that avoids the typical tropes of horror movie final girls or female stalker-victims, despite the fact that her character is an underdeveloped protagonist. This helps to keep the movie together.

Memorable Conversation: It would have been appropriate for Jun-yeong to end this line with an evil MU-ha-ha-ha: We face a daily reality such that we're associated by the bit of a finger. Ironically, it also indicates that we can easily become disconnected.

Sex and Skin: None.

Our view: And to think that someone could hack into your phone and order 10 grand worth of junk on your Amazon credit card or sabotage your meticulously curated Instagram feed is terrifying. The chunk of a thought at the center of Opened is the suspicion we feel for having such a lot of individual information inside a smallish plastic square shape that is so natural to abandon at Chipotle, and how that square shape could (can?) be used to monitor your every move, whether embarrassing or not. So which is scarier, someone draining your Paypal account or someone recording you yanking a bothersome, shockingly coarse nose hair with your selfie camera?

That is, without a doubt, a fear of the 21st century, but Unlocked surrounds that fundamental concept with a slew of uninteresting characters participating in a plot that is heavily contrived. The situations aren't particularly believable, and neither does it provide the kind of outrageous nutso entertainment that might make people laugh out loud. The movie is set in a place where fantasy and reality never meet. It has a monotonous tone that is best exemplified by its villain, whose banality is meant to give the impression of danger but ultimately causes boredom. Although Kim Tae-joon achieves notable success through clever camerawork and creepy POV-via-phone shots, stylistic flourishes are insufficient to make up for narrative tedium (this doesn't even need to be nearly two hours) and the film's inability to generate any surprises or suspense.

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About the Creator

Jagan S

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