LFF 2022: New Normal – Review

Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 52 minutes, Director – Jung Bum-shik

A group of strangers find themselves walking into increasingly strange, and occasionally deadly, situations within their everyday lives.

New Normal is perhaps one of the most baffling films I have seen in quite some time. Largely down to the fact that I, or anyone else in the screening for that matter, never really seemed to know what it was trying to do. A series of vignette’s tend to be linked via murders and deaths, perhaps all by the same killer. There’s an obviousness to such moments as things are generally tracked with little to hook you in or find interest. It’s a dull, boring set of events that simply moves along rather slowly. Yet, there’s an underlying sense of something else which is explored later on within the almost two hour run-time. A strange sense of self-knowing which comes into play almost halfway through.

As we see a young man following a trail of notes left in vending machines to potentially meet his soulmate – from blood type to zodiac sign – there’s a level of interest that’s sprouted. Yes, we have to get past him Googling how many steps in 100 metres first, but still as the segment goes on there’s something to maybe like about it. Perhaps it’s the fact that it moves a long a bit more quickly than what has come before, alongside simply having more going on too. Regardless, there may be ridiculous elements to this particular strand, but it’s these which, to some extent, make it a more enjoyable portion.

From then on you never quite know if the film is travelling along with a kind of self-aware nature or not. If certain points are meant to be played for laughs or not. This even being the case within a Peeping Tom (the chapters are titled after various films) segment following another young man, spending his time in his apartment playing video games when he’s not filming his neighbour without her knowing, literally breaking into his neighbour’s apartment and getting up to some rather creepy activity – not including “I’m brushing my teeth with her toothbrush. Indirect kiss”. In fact, much of the film can simply be defined as weird and strange, and not in the best way. More in an off-putting sense which distances you from the film as a whole instead of a comedic manner which engages you with a knowing wink-and-nudge humour.

By the time the final stages arrive, and things have started to slightly pick up, although still within an air of confusion, we arrive at another drawn out segment. Forcibly bringing the characters and their scenarios together in what feels like a deeply lazy and extended set of events which leave, once again, little to be interested in. The final result for New Normal is both messy and confusing. It starts off truly bad, and while it shows glimpses of finding its feet in some strange area of uncertain self-awareness it stumbles and falters again down a path of poor construction and little substance.

New Normal is a confusing piece of work that starts to hint that it might be in on its own joke before caving in again and simply leaving a messy pile of unengaging character interactions in its path.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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