Barring the fact that it’s raining and he’s already off to a bad start with building superintendent Jung Man-soo (Cha Seung-won), the day Park Sung-kyun (Park Dong-won) moved into his new home in a recently-built five-story residential building in Seoul with his wife and son, should have been a milestone success after eleven years of effort. It certainly feels like one, at first, despite the building’s rather worrying minor flaws, firstly discovered by their son when he puts a marble on the breakfast table and the floor, with the marble rolling by itself in both instances.
Sung-kyun can’t help but fixate on this, and it balloons into a list of concerns that implore him to try and galvanize support among residents to help conduct a safety inspection. All the same however, Sung-kyun’s penchant for putting on airs as a proud homeowner soon sees our protagonist and his co-workers one day gather for a friendly housewarming with four of his co-workers – including Eun-soo (Kim Hye-jun) and the lovelorn Seung-Hyun (Lee Kwang-soo) – and with at least two of the group spending the night while hungover.
By morning the next day, calamity ensues as the building suddenly begins shifting and collapsing into the ground, falling less than half a mile below the surface. With the situation worsening by the minute as loved ones wait above at the surface as rescue efforts commence, including Park’s wife, Young-yi (Kwon So-hyun), it’s up to Park, Jung, and the rest of the survivors to make do out of a terrible situation, either until help arrives, or they themselves, by chance of some miracle, can free themselves from the subterranean death trap.
It helps that director Kim Ji-hoon is no stranger to disaster survival thrillers, having directed The Tower and creature feature, Sector 7. Billed in part as a comedy though, Kim’s approach to characterization here is certainly worth underscoring, designating our unassuming protagonist in Park as the kind of parsimonious and compulsive stickler, opposite the more nonchalant, carefree Jung who works more jobs than Park suspects him to.
Invariably, Park is the kind of character who would annoy you in just about any other movie. In Sinkhole, through processes of role development and story progression, Kim cranks him up to the kind of Stallone-level action hero you can get behind well into the second half. There’s a good deal of that kind of progression among our main character line-up, including Cha, actor Nam Da-reum who plays Man-soo’s son, Seung-tae, and actress Kim. To say the least in this regard, Man-soo certainly grows on you throughout the film, and by the final act, you’ll be rooting for in full-tilt.
Imaginably, the difficult reality of a building collapse doesn’t fall on deaf ears here, particularly as we watch and observe as parts of the world continue to suffer from some truly tumultuous and tragic occurences. Alas, Kim’s own execution of this type of story bodes as something truly gripping and poignant, even for a comedy, and as a result, you get a tactfully written and produced hybridization that transcends as much as it entertains.
Coupled with themes that deal with finding unity and hope in the midst of diar situations, additionally, you get the sense that the larger, more underlying subtext culminating Sinkhole is much ado with the things on which we often place copious and inessential value. Sinkhole undoubtedly serves up this theme in total elephant-in-the-room fashion, topped with hearty comedy and drama, big scale moments of danger and eye-popping excitement that will have you on the edge of your seat, and a Beatles homage if you can believe it. Because, “All You Need Is Love”, right?