Exhuma review: Cleverly terrifying South Korean occult film has spine-tingling scare factors

South Korean occult film Exhuma unfolds its plot comfortably, yet it remains equally suspenseful for the build-up to the big finale. 

Esther Low

| March 18, 2024
Actors Lee Do-hyun and Kim Go-eun in a still from South Korean film Exhuma. Photo: Purple Plan

When an occult movie has sold more than nine million tickets, you’d know that it’s the deal.

South Korean film Exhuma, starring Lee Do-hyun and Kim Go-eun, was recently the talk of the town. This supernatural film has got the suspense and scare factor down; enough for me to catch the slightly over two-hour movie behind a bag of popcorn.

Exhuma is the brainchild of Director Jang Jae-hyun, known as the “occult master” for his previous works like The Priest (2015), SVAHA: The Sixth Finger (2019), and more. And his latest film work is no less stunning, and scary, flanked by a line of compelling cast members.

Kim Go-eun and Lee Do-hyun play shamans Hwa-rim and Bong-gil respectively in the show, while Choi Min-sik plays Geomancer Kim Sang-deok and Yoo Hae-jin the undertaker Young-geun.

The 134-minute film follows these four main characters who come together to help a wealthy Korean-American family solve a string of strange events plaguing them. They also accept the task of relocating a tomb in exchange for a significant amount of cash.

A still from South Korean film Exhuma. Photo: Purple Plan

Later, the tension gradually builds in the second half and is a visually terrifying spectacle.

Spine-tingling moments await as the group uncovers the dark, sinister secret underneath the tomb they previously removed.

The film successfully showcased the culture of burial practices and other aspects of feng shui (Chinese geomancy). However, those who are not acquainted with the concept might find parts of the film slightly confusing.

This cleverly terrifying film also unfolds comfortably and remains equally suspenseful for the build-up to the big finale. Its initial arc focuses more on the characters’ family history whereas the later half covers the broader Korean history.

Nonetheless, it is a hauntingly terrifying treat infused with culture, history and folklore.


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