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Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018)

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018)

So, South Korea takes on Grave Encounters…and the end result is pretty good overall!

I should start by thanking every one of you that got in contact with me over the last fortnight regarding this film – it could have been one I easily overlooked due to the simplistic front cover (with Asian writing sprawled across it!).

From what I gather, it was first released in it’s country of origin on the 28th of March, 2018, which is a good sign really.

Why?

Well, most foreign language movies that are shit tend to hit the illegal film sites within the first week of their release…the better ones take time to filter onto the internet.

The fact this title took a full 5 months to surface – is a good indication on it’s popularity/quality.

The Plot

An internet broadcaster recruits a handful of people for their ‘experience the horror’ show at Gonjiam. They are to explore the haunted asylum and stream it live on the show. To attract more viewers, the show hosts play tricks on the guests, but things start to get out of hand when they are inside the place, where tortured souls could really be lurking in the shadows.

First The Negatives…

Okay, unfortunately it’s not all plain sailing with this movie – it’s good but it does carry one rather irritating drawback…

It’s build.

Around 90% of Found Footage titles have a slow and lingering build, sometimes they create an element of realism…and sometimes they are thrown in there because the filmmaker only has half a plot to work with!

Thankfully, the build on Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is put in place for the right reason…

But why does it turn out to be a negative point in the movie experience?

Well, for Korean’s it’s probably not…but for the rest of us, darting our eyes up and down to read the subtitles…it’s a bit of a pain in the ass!

I have no problem with subtitles per se, but when I’m following nothing more than a group of Korean twenty-somethings rambling on (desperately trying to seem comfortable with teenage US jargon), it tends to fuck me off slightly.

But that’s the ONLY negative I could find in this film, and it’s not their fault I don’t speak Korean (it’s mine!).

Conclusion

These days it’s getting harder and harder to find Found Footage movies that actually scare the watcher, or at least make them uneasy about what they are seeing on-screen. Don’t get me wrong – a lot of modern titles are impressive, but they don’t really have that creepeed out fear effect.

Gonjiam does.

It was one of the most powerful weapons in the Grave Encounters arsenal – it entertained you AND it freaked you out at times.

I have a feeling that director Beom-sik Jeong has spent a lot of time studying the two ‘Encounters’ movies, taking notes on where they excel – what made them stand out above the other Found Footage titles at the time.

It was simple really – the cinematography was spot on, and it freaked the shit outta you!

I’m not going to hit any spoilers, but there are three main scenes in the climax of the movie that are worth the entrance fee alone. Dark, foreboding, creepy and tense – you know it’s coming…but they keep you hanging on a couple on minutes longer…just to fuck with your head!

Overall the acting was decent, but I can’t really judge this because I don’t understand Korean mannerisms or language. At points it does seem like overacting, but again – I can’t really judge this aspect.

The FX and makeup department did well to keep up with the level set by cinematography…and we got a new version of a creepy on-screen demon that worked really well (female with big black eyes whispering at a ridiculously fast pace!).

All in all I have to call this a sound success, even though the build did a good job of giving me a migraine.

Definitely one to watch (hooray!!!).

Chris

13 Comments

  1. Haha I told you about this movie around the time of it’s theatrical release. Feels good to see you got a review for it.
    Well time to watch it!

  2. Thank u, I really enjoyed your review!
    I really loved the movie and I’m happy that u read my request to watch the movie!

  3. Hahaha 🙂 Sometimes it is quite a struggle to find good movied (both American and foreign), so I am really happy I found your recommendation. I haven’t seen any South Korean movie. I put it on my must watch list, which is not too long at the moment and will get back to you as soon as I have watched it 🙂 Thanks very much for the idea!

    • No problem Kisumu – really nice to meet you and I hope that you enjoy your time here at the site (and enjoy the movie!). 

  4. Thanks for the review without the spoilers 🙂  As far as horror genre is concerned, I find the Asian movies more creepy and they freak me out most of the time. Maybe that’s because I’m an Asian myself but I can relate to the eeriness more easily. Their horrors tend to get under my skin most of the time, and there are movies I deliberately avoided because of the creepiness factor. I haven’t watched this movie. In fact, it’s been quite some time now since I last saw a decent horror movie. I’ll give Gonjiam a try.

    • Hi there Sukumar – nice to meet you!

      I agree that (most) Asian movies have a added layer of dread and fear to them, they’re often more twisted than their Western counterparts. Hope you enjoy the movie mate! 

  5. I can see subtitles as a negative for US/UK residents, but for me it is something I’ve been used to my whole life, so no negative for me. 🙂

    The one thing I do feel a bit reserved about is the acting. I mostly like English movies, because I can relate more with the characters. With Asian movies that relation fades a bit, you know.

    But I still gonna put this one on my todo list as I thorougly enjoyed another Korean horror: Busanhaeng.

    Thanks for the tip!

    • Yeah I get you Jurgen – a lot of the Asian films suffer from over-acting, but more often than not this can be overlooked by a great visual story (which is the case here!)

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