Yeah Lynch is one of the most original film makers right now, but he's not the only one out there working with interesting ideas. The best way to make sense of this movie is to remember that the director filmed it, then took out a bunch of scenes to make it more confusing on purpose! He wanted it to be a revenge murder type movie with mythical elements, and I think he succeeded quite well. In some ways it is much more inventive than Old Boy, another Korean movie that made a big splash over here amongst those who enjoy interesting films.
I lived with a Japanese woman once for several years and saw a lot more, weirder movies than this. Comparing this to Lynch is simply because he's the only director working in a certain style most American are familiar with, but Shinya Tsukamoto, Sion Sono, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and others have been steadily forging a different sort of experimental film style for years.
BTW, and I think all of you might get a laugh out of this, when my friends ask me why I like Shinya Tsukamoto's movies so much I say, "Imagine David Lynch, but insanely talented, visually brilliant and able to tell a coherent, philosophically meaningful story"...
I'm not from the US, and I have seen lots of experimental, weird and visually interesting movies. I've seen Tsukamoto and K. Kurosawa movies, and I wouldn't compare any of them directly to a Lynch movie. The reason I stated that this movie was similar to Lynch movies was not because it had a certain "different" style like Lynch does, but because it borrowed *heavily* from Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive specifically, at least that's what I got from it when I saw it 2.5 years ago. Kind of forgotten a lot of it now.
I don't really care for Tsukamoto's movies after the Tetsuo movies by the way. And I would of course say that Lynch is the insanely talented, visually (and aurally!) talented director. And regarding Spider Forest: Taking out scenes to make it confusing on purpose is a cheap way of presenting an "interesting" and mysterious story. This is why Lynch is brilliant: He creates the movie organically, so that it makes sense intuitively, for him and the viewer. He doesn't leave anything out on purpose to make it mysterious, it's all there and it's all meaningful.
Anyway, I do really like K. Kurosawa movies, I want to see more of them. And to round off, I thought Old Boy was ok (parts of it were great), but like a lot of newer Korean "tough" movies, it tries to hard. The marriage between the violence and the philosophical elements isn't altogether successful. (See Kim Ki-duk also.) But at least Park Chan-wook has a style all of his own.