Svaha: The Sixth Finger
Director: Jang Jae-hyun
Cast: Lee Jung-jae, Park Jung-min, Lee Jae-in, Yu Ji-tae, Jung Jin-young, Jin Sun-kyu, Lee David
Film genre: Thriller, Mystery
122 mins, 2019
Distributed by CJ Entertainment
Combining supernatural thrills and religious mystery, director Jang Jae-hyun scored a box-office hit with his debut feature The Priests (2015). Returning with another tale of horror-tinged intrigue, the filmmaker is rapidly carving out a reputation as one of Korea’s leading creators of darkly beguiling thrillers.
Svaha: The Sixth Finger follows Pastor Park (Lee Jung-jae), head of the ‘Far East Religious Research Centre’, an organisation that uses a veneer of religious respectability to cynically make money hunting down the many cults that have proliferated across South Korea. Under attack for his persecution of innocent church groups and in need of cash, Park stumbles upon the emergence of a new and secretive Buddhist sect, ‘Deer Mount’. When it’s discovered that cult adherent Na-han (Park Jung-min) is committing terrible murders for some unknown purpose, Pastor Park and his team race to uncover the meaning of Deer Mount’s sinister scriptures. This task becomes even more pressing when the fanatical Na-han turns his attention to a young woman with her own secret, a twin sister who has been locked away since birth…
With leading performances from popular actors Lee Jung-jae (New World) and Park Jung-min (Bleak Night, Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet) the film features an impressive supporting cast including Lee Jae-in, who impressed in LKFF2018 indie feature Adulthood, Japanese actor Tanaka Min (The Twilight Samurai) and Jin Sun-kyu, star of Korea’s current box-office smash Extreme Job.
Not unlike the religious symbolism offered up in the works of Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code), Svaha: The Sixth Finger uses Korea’s twin religious worlds of Christianity and Buddhism to craft a thrilling mystery narrative. With secret scriptures, horrifying painted murals and bizarre ritualistic crimes to decipher, director Jang has produced a thrillingly original tale using occult imagery to drive a visually powerful and narratively engaging story.