Monday, December 2, 2019

Surprised Again: Gonjiam - Haunted Asylum

Every time my husband suggests watching another found-footage movie, I pull a face and make some horrible sound. Not another one! I always protest that I've seen enough found-footage to last me a lifetime, and that it's not and will never be my favorite sub-genre.

Gon-ji-am (2018)Yet every time lately, every time I give in to this impulse, I am pleasantly surprised. Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum the Korean film where the characters are amateur paranormal investigators, videotaping themselves as they visit renowned haunting locations and try to transgress local legends and mysteries. In this case, it's a haunted asylum, and the dreaded room 402 where the last set of people to go in disappeared screaming.

The premise of investigating and videotaping for social media, with the motive of gaining a tremendous amount of views (and money), was something I haven't seen before in film, but again, made the method of the film make perfect, organic sense. It also justified all the recording technology that each of the characters was toting. I especially appreciated the narrative and how it interwove the scripted nature of the video as they doctored it for viewing, and the stuff that happens on-screen for which there is no script.

Room 402 was really special. It reminded me a lot of the "red room" trope that we've seen in things like Netflix's Haunting of Hill House, if that's not saying too much. But suffice it to says it's always utterly terrifying, as are the unbelievably simple effects that still have power on screen.

This was absolutely the scariest film I've seen in a good long while. My husband and I actually clutched each other while watching. We haven't done that since college, which was a lifetime and a million horror movies ago. There weren't just cheap scares. They were really effective ones.

I was scared. Not an easy feat. Bravo.

K. Rating: 5/5

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