Doomsday Book is three stories about the end of the world. There’s no connection between the stories except the directors; the tone changes wildly between all three.
The first story is a zombie tale with some humor, some religious allegory and some gore. There are a lot of Romero references in it and also the most dynamic lead performance… for a while at least. Ryu Seung-beom plays an unlucky, very sympathetic guy who unknowingly brings about the end of the world. Yim’s direction is good; there’s a mix of absurd humor, romance, horror and large scale destruction.
The second story, from Kim Ji-woon, is very different. Kim Kang-woo plays a robot technician who finds himself conflicted about reporting an sentient robot as defective or not. As a protagonist, Kim Kang-woo is indistinct but it serves the piece. Kim Gyu-ri plays one of the robot’s friends and director Kim Ji-woon beautifully juxtaposes the two characters’ experiences in a small span of time. The ending, which is as “seriously” profound as Doomsday gets, is excellent.
The third story is also profound, but incredibly absurd. Yim is directing again as a meteor approaches the earth and a family tries to prepare for the end. The script’s the strongest element here, with Yim able to make the hilariously absurd real. It’s a delightful mix of Hitchhiker’s and Vonnegut.
Obviously, Doomsday succeeds because of its directors, but getting the downer out of the way first probably helps a bit.
Directed by Kim Ji-woon and Yim Pil-sung; screenplay by Yim, Lee Hwan-hee, Kim Ji-woon and Jang Jong-ah, based in part on a stories by Park Seong-hwan and Park Su-min; directors of photography, Ha Sung-min, Kim Ji-yong and Jo Sang-yoon; edited by Im Seon-gyeong, Mun Se-gyeong and Nam Na-yeong; music by Mowg; produced by Choi Hyeon-muk, Kim Myeong-eun and Oh Yeong-hun; released by Lotte Entertainment.
Starring Ryu Seung-beom (Yoon Seok-woo), Ko Jun-hee (Kim Yoo-min), Kim Kang-woo (Park Do-won), Kim Gyu-ri (Hye-joo), Jin Ji-hee (Park Min-seo), Song Young-chang (Kang Seong-cheol), Kim Seo-hyeong (Min Yu-na), Lee Seung-jun (Min-seo’s father), Yoon Se-ah (Min-seo’s mother), Song Sae-byok (Min-seo’s uncle), Jo Yun-hie (Ji-eun) and Park Hae-il (In-myoung).