Funnier than previous shorts and different in tone, Kiss Burn is another solid addition to the Persona collection.
This review is for the third segment of Netflix’s Persona, titled Persona: Kiss Burn. It contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free thoughts on the full season by clicking these words. Our reviews of the previous segments can be found here and here.
Friendship is the subject of Kiss Burn, among other things. It’s a sort of low-key, capsule coming-of-age tale, directed by Jeon Go Woon and starring, once again, singer-actress IU, here made younger in appearance and nature as Han-na, which is a bit weird after the first two segments of Persona sexed her up a bit.
But you get used to it. Han-na turns up at a remote little house surrounded by forests in search of her friend, Hye-Bok, but at first only finds her short-tempered father, who insists she isn’t home. In a sequence played for laughs, Han-na tries to whisper through Hye-Bok’s bedroom window only for her father’s angry face to loom through instead.
But Han-na won’t be dissuaded, and when the father goes out to work, she sneaks inside. She finds Hye-Bok with her hair roughly cut (apparently her father did it, drunk, while she was sleeping) and her neck covered in bruises. What looks like domestic abuse instead has a more exciting explanation; apparently they’re hickeys, earned from some kid at the beach. Nevertheless, the decision is made to rig up the house Home Alone style to punish Hye-Bok’s father when he returns.
Kiss Burn is reminiscent of various “when the parents are away the kids will play” narratives, but it takes a slightly darker, more grimly comic turn than expected. When the initial pranks fail to have the intended effect, Han-na and Hye-Bok bond over escalating matters, eventually, and accidentally, setting the chicken coop alight. They manage to put out the blaze (whatever happened to the chicken that ran across the screen on fire remains unknown), but give the pranks up as a bad job. On their way into town, another blaze flares in the back of the shot, as Han-na asks Hye-Bok what her father does for a living. Turns out he’s a forest fire lookout.
More explicitly comical than previous segments, Kiss Burn is refreshing in how it relies on IU’s acting rather than her appearance to help inform its story, and its darkly funny conclusion feels well-judged. Another enjoyable Persona short.