Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum
Director: Jung Bum-shik
Cast: Wi Ha-jun, Park ji-hyun, Oh Ah-yeon, Mun ye-won
Film genre: Horror
Cert 15, 94 mins, 2018
Distributed by Showbox Corp
Gonjiam Psychiatric hospital, well known locally as one of the most haunted places in South Korea, gained international notoriety when CNN named it as one of the ‘7 Freakiest Places on Earth.’ Shrouded in mystery, the desolate location is the home of urban legends telling of abandoned patients, deranged doctors and horrific experiments. With all the elements for a perfect horror movie in place, director Jung Bum-shik went to work and ended up making the surprise hit of 2018 and the country’s second most successful horror movie of all time.
Charismatic Ha-joon and his fearless pals are the founders of a ghost-hunting YouTube channel. With a target to hit one million viewers, the trio enlist four willing recruits, embarking on a mission to live-stream a journey into the heart of the abandoned Gonjiam Psychiatric Asylum. Their night-time assault on the location will see their attempt to confront the myths surrounding the building and eventually open the mysterious ‘Room 402.’ However, it seems the asylum has other plans for its newest residents, and when the truth behind the stories begins to reveal itself, the desire for online likes gives way to a need for real-life survival…
The found footage format has been a horror staple since the Blair Witch Project first wormed its way into the collective fears of a generation, showing just how successful a film an original idea and a couple of video cameras could make. Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum gives the format a modern update, with GoPro cameras and drones live-streaming the action for YouTube, yet the core remains the same; take a cast of unknowns, throw in an isolated location and an urban legend, and watch the terror unfold.