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Q&A with Youngmin Kim, Director of “Room 731”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?

Sadako from THE RING –  her unforgiveness and unstoppable grudge froze my heart inside the theater. I could never forget about the moment when she crawled out of the TV.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

Yes, definitely I do feel very much a part of the horror community. Especially when I attended the 35th anniversary Wes Craven Tribute at the Silver Scream Festival in 2016. It was an honor to meet the legendary filmmakers as well as the festival jury, Rick Baker, John Landis, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp in person. Fortunately, they really liked ‘Room 731’ and awarded ‘Best Short Horror’ and ‘Best Standout Moment’.

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?

I usually check all the data related to the subject of my films, from history books, news, documentary, and films. The non-fiction work helps to develop a believable reality and the fiction books help to develop characters and visualization.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?

Wow, then I would need to punish/kill so many people in order to save my main character, Wei. At the very least I would like to warn to the villains that their activities would cast Wei’s unending grudge upon them forever.

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?

Sadako (Ringu), Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs), Regan (The exorcist), Jack (The shining)

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?

Freddy – Stephen King – Practical – Pre Apocalypse

How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?

My film ‘Room 731’ is based on a historical tragedy during WW II. It’s about the covered notorious human experiment at Unit 731. I read most of books related to the subject, UNIT 731 but no visual materials are existed. I imagine how victims look like after the human experiments. Luckily, I worked with Hollywood professionals, a production designer, Eddie Yang, Art Director/SFX Supervisor, Diana Choi. Eddie and Diana are legendary special make-up effects creator Rick Baker’s favorite disciples and have worked on so many great special effects projects like Men in Black, The Ring, Hellboy, X-Men, and Iron Man. After many conversations, they manifested our ideas into sets and props that were period accurate, but could also be used to exaggerate reality to fit our dark tone.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?

I often see and read about accidents related to humanity’s darkest desires and madness. I start to imagine if I am there or if the character is here, what would they do. I am fascinated by characters who look very normal until their darkest desires are made known.

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favorite scary movie?’

Ringu (1998) by Hideo Nakata