A Woman After a Killer Butterfly

A Woman After a Killer Butterfly ★★★½

Halloween 2021

This is the kind of weird that isn't fully conscious of its own weirdness. It doesn't have the time to cater to your needs or preconceptions as a viewer. Director Kim Ki-Young wanted to make a movie about death, it seems. To that end, he didn't pussyfoot around. Boom. In the first five minutes, there's an exceptionally casual juice-borne poisoning for your divertissement—at a picnic, of all places, under the unblinking sun. Thereafter, we are acquainted with a talking skeleton and a two-thousand-year-old woman who wants to eat your liver. (Or any liver, really. She's not picky.)

The characters in A Woman After a Killer Butterfly either want to die and can't or don't want to die and very easily can. I guess the grass is always greener, as the saying goes.

When the movie zeroes in on a plot that it finally decides to stick with—a budding but never realized romance between a suicidal man and a suicidal paleontologist's daughter—the energy flags a bit. A character tells us the daughter is a "cold bitch." His phrase, not mine. I'd be more diplomatic about it. She's haughty and enigmatic and whiles away her days painting in her jewel-toned bedroom (that might've been borrowed from a Bava or Argento movie). She wants very much to die—these people really should start a club or something, y'know?—but she doesn't want to die alone. Maybe this new guy in her life will die with her...? It'd be like riding a tandem bicycle into the great hereafter.

Nope. Now that she wants him to die, he's not interested. I guess you have to be in the mood.

Some people are making a lot of noise about how great this movie looks. I don't know about that. It's pretty sloppy. Sure, the colors are nice, but the compositions and editing are occasionally confounding, not always in ways that seem intentional. If the movie were leaner and meaner and polished up a bit, it might qualify as a stone-cold masterpiece, but as-is, it's just a fascinating curiosity. I'm still giving it three-and-a-half stars though because I love the idea of it.