South Korean series available on Apple TV +, Dr. Brain is the impactful new work of Jee Woon-Kim (I Met the Devil). AlloCiné spoke with the director and the cast of this horrific thriller.
New South Korean series airing since November 4 on Apple TV +, Dr. Brain is a horror thriller created, written and directed by Jee-Woon Kim (I Met the Devil). In 6 episodes, the show tells how a neuroscientist uses his skills to access memories in his wife’s brain to piece together the mystery of what really happened to his family and why.
AlloCiné was able to speak with the screenwriter and director as well as with part of the cast of the series: Lee Sun-Kyun, Seo Ji-Hye, Jae-Won Lee, Yoo-Young Lee and Hee-Soon Park.
AlloCiné: What inspired you for this series? And how was the experience of switching from feature film to serial format for the first time?
Jee-Woon Kim: First of all this series is inspired by the universe of “Dr. Brain” which is a popular webtoon in Korea and created by Hong Jac-Ga. I was really captivated by the graphics and this haunting atmosphere where our main character, the scientist Sewon [joué par Lee Sun-Kuyn, ndlr] tries to solve puzzles by examining the brains of suspected cases.
And in doing so, Sewon will learn more about himself, in order to understand the various psychological fractures he suffers from. As for my experience as a director of a series, it was indeed a shock because I had to film three times longer than when I was directing a feature film. I used to shoot films of about two hours and here we needed six hours of programming.
I really felt the pressure to get to film everything on a limited schedule. In addition, I wanted each episode of the series to tell an individual story that is not necessarily, totally, connected to the other episodes.
What is this series really about for you? What are the subjects covered?
Lee Sun-Kuyn: For me it’s a series that oscillates between horror and thriller. It really speaks of the journey of a man in desperate search of his son who he thought was dead but who is, perhaps, still alive. It’s really a series about the quest for identity and where each character gradually discovers who he or she really is.
Jae-Won Lee: It’s a metaphor for our society that is always trying to better understand who we are and how our brains work. The approach to humans in “Dr. Brain ”is already an experimental reality on mice. These technological advances seem pretty scary to me.
Yoo-Young Lee: It’s a series that deals with the subject of the ego’s confrontation with itself. Who are we really? How can we grow without the weight of the various existentialist crises that we sometimes go through. To be or not to be, isn’t that the eternal question?
Hee-Soon Park: This series explores the limits of our madness to always want to know more and discover how our brain works. The consequences can be frightening. It’s a series, too, on human dignity and what defines us as human.
Jee-Woon Kim has a sophisticated sense of direction and knows how to create a thrilling and scary world. I like his way of re-inventing himself through films and now a different series than he did before.
How was your collaboration with the great director Jee-Woon Kim?
Lee Sun-Kuyn: I have always been a fan of Jee-Woon Kim and it has been a great honor to work with him on this series. He has a sophisticated sense of direction and he knows how to create a thrilling and scary world. I like his way of re-inventing himself through films and now a different series than he did before. He always gives you simple and clear instructions, which gives me a lot of freedom with my acting.
Seo Ji-Hye: I love his precision and attention to detail for every scene he shoots.
What was the biggest challenge during the shooting?
Lee Sun-Kuyn: It was a new start for me to be part of a pretty horrific series like this. I had to get used to this very dark world. In addition, at the beginning, my character shows no emotion from his traumatic past. So it was a challenge to play someone like him, who feels nothing and shows no sensitivity in the world in which he operates.
The brain is beautiful, but it can also be frightening. What do you think ?
Lee Sun-Kuyn: What a great question and what a complicated answer to formulate. The beauty of our brain, of our mind, is to be able to remember the best moments of our existence. It is also to have the possibility of “forgetting” the bad times, the traumatic experiences. Now, as “Dr. Brain ”, maybe one day we will be able to“ get inside ”our brain, our mind and explore all the darkest corners of it. What can be frightening and what can wake up sleeping old demons in us.
Yoo-Young Lee: This series reminds me a little of the movie Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind [de Michel Gondry, ndlr] because the character of Jim Carrey decides to erase all memories which make him sad until the complete erasure of his existence. The manipulation of the mind, of the brain is really a scary thing in my opinion. I really wouldn’t like someone to come and invade my mind and see what’s going on …
Hee-Soon Park: What makes us human is having the capacity to be able, to want to forget certain things that we have been through. It is undoubtedly this which allows us to move forward despite the chaos of life. But if we have a technology, as described in “Dr. Brain ”, which makes us relive our traumas from the past, so I think we can really sink into insanity. Hence the duality of the brain, of the mind, both capable of all possible beauties and at the same time capable of falling into madness, into total ugliness.
Jae-Won Lee: Yeah, that’s a tricky question and answer. It’s hard to know what’s beautiful and what’s scary in our brain, our mind. Because both have the same container: our head, our body. The beauty of the brain is inseparable from its ugliness.
Seo Ji-Hye: What’s scary about the brain is that it doesn’t know what its internal fracture may be due to such and such trauma.
Jee-Woon Kim: Yes, the brain reveals the whole rainbow of our personalities, from the best to the worst. I think we are capable of both and that to learn to live is to learn to balance yourself on the brink of the abyss of madness. In any case, the “brain” is an infinite source of inspiration for building and directing a series such as “Dr. Brain ”.