exhuma (film, 2024) ↑

exhuma (film, 2024)

I watched Exhuma last night, and it did not disappoint. The story follows a shaman named Hwa-rim, who is called upon to help lift a curse plaguing a wealthy Korean-American family. She brings along her apprentice, Bong-gil, as well as a feng shui master named Kim Sang-deok and a mortician named Ko Young-geun, to aid in her efforts. Their investigation leads them to an isolated mountain grave where the family patriarch is buried. Things started to take a darker turn once they excavated the coffin, and strange occult-like symbols and engravings were discovered on its surface. No gore or jump scares were relied upon up to this point. The horror was derived solely from a purely atmospheric sense of growing unease.

While the plot grew increasingly complex in its second half with revelations of ancestral curses and territorial demons, I never lost interest in peeling back each chilling layer of mystery. I loved how the movie commented on tragic parts of Korean-Japanese history through its villainous monster manifestations. It added an extra thought-provoking dimension to the supernatural chills. Those reveals involving ancestral curses, sinister doppelgangers, and obscure spirits brought classic Yokai monster stories to mind. I was reminded of films like Kwaidan or Onibaba that tap into ancient Asian mysticism to unnerving effect. This melding of horror genres is what truly sets Exhuma apart.

The chained-up giant did throw me for a loop, too. It almost steered things into more B-movie territory, which could have backfired. Still, the practical effects and sheer menace they portrayed of this thing terrified and entertained me. On a technical level, the creepy atmosphere and growing unease were masterfully conveyed through top-notch cinematography, lighting, coloring, and sound design. Practical creature effects blended seamlessly with CGI when needed. The cast also brought nuanced, believable performances that anchored the heady supernatural concepts in human emotion.

In the end, Exhuma had surprised and delighted this longtime horror hound on multiple levels. I love it when a film can transport me to another time and place through its authentic cultural storytelling while providing unnerving scares. Its slow-burn style harkened to classics from Asia's golden age of ghost cinema. Yet, it also felt fresh and different. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking a new, atmospheric, supernatural experience.