Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018)

Directed by Jung Bum-shik. Written by Bum-shik and Park Sang-min. Starring Wi Ha-joon, Park Ji-hyun, Oh Ah-yeon, Moon Ye-won, Park Sung-hoon, Yoo Je-yoon and Lee Seung-wook.

Plot: the crew of a horror web series travels to an abandoned asylum for more ratings and more money.

Some people have a problem with jump scares. They call them cheap. Well I call those people unappreciative. Jump scares are called jump scares for a reason – because they’re scary. And DJ and I love a good jump scare. My reasoning for all this is that this Korean, found footage, horror movie is filled with good jump scares during the back end of the film and just thinking about them makes me jump, scream and want to hide under a blanket.

In the beginning of the movie, two teenage boys break into the asylum and are never heard from again. So, the owner of “Horror Times”, a web series, decides to go to the asylum himself with a select crew. In reality, the asylum, Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, is listed as one of the seven freakiest places on the planet and is said to be haunted. In the film, Gonjiam also has a lot of history and a lot of rumors behind it, one specifying that the hospital director killed a lot of her own patients and then hung herself. Room 402 is of particular importance because no one has ever been able to get it open.

After recruiting six other people from all walks of life, Ha-Joon (the owner of “Horror Times”) takes them all to Gonjiam. He sets up a base camp in a tent outside the actual building to monitor what happens inside on several screens. The screens are linked to several posted cameras inside Gonjiam and to six other cameras that each of the six crew members are wearing.

Once inside, the crew starts looking around, breaking up into teams. Usually this is an obvious mistake, but in this movie it isn’t until they come back together that the real trouble starts. All of them meet outside the hospital director’s room. Inside the room, one of the crew members performs some sort of ritual and freaky shit starts happening soon after. But that’s when we, the viewer, find out that Ha-Joon and two other crew members have set up some scares to improve the ratings. Of course, soon after this, the entire crew discovers that the asylum is truly haunted and everyone gets scared for real.

I won’t tell you how it ends or the specifics of what else happens, but I will say that everything and everyone falls apart. People fight amongst themselves, people try to leave and all see things they wish they hadn’t. It is not a boring film. It’s paced very well and built loads of tension to a very rewarding finish. It’s a good reworking of the found footage genre. It followed rules, had some humor in the very beginning and the direction was good as well. Also, the effects were so damned perfect. You never even see anyone being killed, but the scares leading up to the kills are so grotesque that you don’t need to see it all.

Last thing I’ll say is that I hate when all the people are wiped out in horror movies, but that always seems to happen in found footage films. We just loved this and recommend you watch it now.

Our score: 78.

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