Killer Toon ( 더 웹툰: 예고살인) is NOT about a cartoon charracter that goes on a killing spree, but, in fact, a 2012 horror movie from South Korea. Protagonist Kang Ji-yun is a writer of Manhwa (Korean comic books) in the horror genre. She emails her latest completed work, The Black Veil, to her publisher, Seo Mi-suk. Seo receives the email and discovers to her terror that the comic is about the suicide of Seo's own mother, who wore a black veil due to ghastly facial injuries. And even worse, the comic is depicting what is happening to Seo in her office as she reads it. Both the comic book and Seo's own life end in a violent death in the office. The police write Seo's death off as a suicide, but lead investigator Lee Gi-cheol doesn't agree, although his cheerful junior partner Kim Yeong-su does.
When a second victim, Jo Seon-ki, receives a copy of Ji-yun's comic that depicts his own death, followed by his violent death as well, Ji-yun suddenly becomes a murder suspect. She is thus forced to divulge an embarrassing secret: she is a plagiarist. She suffered from severe writer's block after her debut comic book A History of Lunacy, until an anonymous email arrived in her inbox, with a new comic, which Ji-yun in desperation copied and published as her own. All of her work since then has been copied from the same anonymous source. Police trace the emails to an abandoned apartment building where Ji-yun used to live with her friend Seo-hyun—a disturbed young woman with a compulsion to draw dark, violent art. And Seo-hyun has been missing for years...
Tropes in this film:
- Accidental Murder: It's revealed at the end that Yeong-su's death wasn't at the hands of the ghost of the little girl he killed. It was actually Gi-cheol. After he managed to stop Yeong-su from seemingly killing himself, the gun accidentally went off, killing Yeoung-su almost instantly.
- Ambiguously Gay: Ji-yun and Seo-hyun might be lovers. Vague hints include Ji-yun talking about the need for "companionship", a scene where they are embracing, and Ji-yun's comment that the fire which destroyed the apartment building "was the end of us".
- Asshole Victim: All the targets of the ghosts had it coming. Mi-suk walked in on her mother hanging herself, and stepped back and let it happen. Seon-ki killed his terminally ill wife when she lingered a little too long for him. Yeong-su left a little girl to die after hitting her on the road, rather than screw up his police career. Subverted with Gi-cheol, who killed Yeoung-su accidentally, but still made it look like a suicide to save his own skin.
- Catapult Nightmare: Ji-yun has these several times, including the end of her Dream Within a Dream.
- Cat Scare: Played straight, with a cat jumping out as Ji-yun and Gi-cheol explore the abandoned basement where she lived with Seo-hyun.
- Death by Irony: Yeoung-su and Gi-cheol.
- Yeoung-su accidentally ran over a little girl, but he covered his crime up so he wouldnt lose his job. Then Gi-cheol accidentally shoots him in the head, then makes it look like a suicide for pretty much the same reason.
- After Gi-cheol accidentally kills Yeoung-su and makes it look like a suicide, Yeoung-su's ghost gets to have his revenge by forcing Gi-cheol to shoot himself, thus making it look like he committed suicide, as well.
- Dream Within a Dream: Ji-yun is relaxing in her indoor pool when she has a nightmare of Seo Mi-suk's ghost visiting her. She wakes up to another nightmare of a ghost visiting her, and then she wakes up again, this time for real, in bed.
- Driven to Suicide:
- As Ji-yun's comic reveals, Seo Mi-suk's mother was driven to suicide after her horrific facial scarring not only caused her to be a social pariah, but caused Seo to reject her and wish for her death.
- The ghosts' victims appear as this.
- Eye Scream / Facial Horror: What happened to Seo Mi-suk's mother isn't explained, but she is missing an eye and has horrific scarring as well as actual holes in her cheek.
- Gray Rain of Depression: Outside the barn where Gi-cheol tracks down Yeoung-su and Ji-yun, after Yeoung-su supposedly kills himself.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: Gi-cheol realizes his cheerful, upbeat partner Yeoung-su is actually a bad guy when Gi-cheol tells him Ji-yun stole his car, and Yeoung-su says "In front of the restaurant?", a detail which Gi-cheol hadn't mentioned.
- Ironic Name: The apartment building where Ji-yun and Seo-hyun used to live, which looked gray and depressing even before it burned down, is called "Happy Mansion".
- I See Dead People: Seo-hyun has a connection to dead people. Ghosts of murder victims appear and visit her, and she is compelled to draw their stories.
- Korean Webtoons: What Ji-yun writes, although they're distributed in print as well.
- Life Imitates Art: In-universe. Ji-yun's terrifying comics come true for the people who receive them, ending in their deaths.
- Murder by Inaction:
- Mi-suk walked in on her mother as her mother was hanging herself. Rather than save her, Mi-suk stepped back and let her mother strangle to death on the rope.
- Yeoung-su had a chance to get help for the little girl he accidentally hit with his carnote , but rather than face the consequences and ruin his then budding police career, he just lets her die.
- Neck Snap: Seon-ki's terrifying encounter with the ghost of his dead wife ends with her ghost making him snap his own neck.
- Not-So-Abandoned Building: The cops find a pirated Internet connection which leads to a computer in the basement where Ji-yun and Seo-hyun used to live. That's where the anonymous artist has been sending emails to Ji-yun.
- Plagiarism in Fiction: Ji-yun, who can't come up with any more comics, is passing off the anonymous writer's comics as her own.
- The Reveal / Twist Ending: Ji-yun has never written a successful comic, not even A History of Lunacy, the first one that made her a star. After failing to make it on her own as an artist, she took the drawings of her disturbed roommate Seo-hyun and passed them off as her own. When a horrified Seo-hyun refuses to let her stories from the dead be used for entertainment, Ji-yun strangled her to death. Since then, the ghost of Seo-hyun has been possessing Ji-yun and making her write the comics and send them anonymously to herself.
- Revenge: What the ghosts depicted in Ji-yun's comics want.