For a “revealing the secrets of a small town” thriller, Moss has a number of problems. The first one might just be me. The town has six residents. It’s not a town in my American understanding. A viewer with more cultural knowledge might experience it differently.
Second, and more to the point, it’s just too long for the payoff. The film runs over two hours–after starting with an awkward, narratively ill-advised flashback for a prologue (though it is astounding how good the old age makeup is in Moss–I didn’t even realize it was makeup on one of the guys, I just assumed they recast him)–and it’s all very mysterious, only to give a really pat, really mediocre conclusion.
Luckily, decent scripting, unambitious but solid direction and some good performances make the whole thing go well.
Lead Park Hae-il is good as the unwitting investigator of the town and its secrets. His character has shockingly little backstory–the film includes an opening adversarial relationship with a prosecutor, an excellent Yu Jun-Sang, but it’s always a little comical and eventually becomes a buddy movie relationship–and no presence other than his quest.
Jeong Jae-yeong is fine as the big bad guy, but it’s not really a performance requiring a lot of depth–he’s just got to be quietly evil.
Sun Yoo has the film’s most layered character, as the only woman in this town of five, and gets wasted.
Moss gets by, but only just.
Directed by Kang Woo-suk; screenplay by Chung Ji-woo, based on the comic book by Yoon Tae-ho; director of photography, Kim Sung-bok; edited by Go Im-pyo; music by Jo Young-wook; production designers, Jo Seong-wong and Lee Tae-hun; produced by Jung Sun-young; released by CJ Entertainment.
Starring Park Hae-il (Ryoo Hae-gook), Jeong Jae-yeong (Cheon Yong-deok), Yu Jun-sang (Park Min-wook), Yoo Sun (Lee Yeong-ji), Heo Joon-ho (Yoo Mok-hyeong), Yu Hae-jin (Kim Deok-cheon), Kim Sang-ho (Jeon Seok-man) and Kim Joon-bae (Ha Seong-gyoo).