GONJIAM: HAUNTED ASYLUM (2018) Review by Steve Kirkham

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GONJIAM: HAUNTED ASYLUM (2018)

3 stars
Second Sight. Limited Edition and Standard Edition Blu Ray

Looking to build the audience for their web series Horror Times, the creators of this online show decide they are going to visit one of the three most haunted houses in Korea – which is listed online as one of the 7 freakiest places on Earth (this is actually true). The location is Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, closed in 1979, following the mass suicide of the patients and the disappearance of it’s director. There are lots of rumours about the abandoned buildings – with reports of ghosts and odd noises… and don’t go into Room 402, a locked room in the asylum. Whoever opens it is cursed to die. Best leave that alone then!

With a crew of 3 guys from the series going to investigate, they also recruit several others from their audience to accompany them – 3 girls and a chap. We have Ha-Joon as the producer/director of the channel. Then we have the 3 young men – Sung-Hoon, Seung-Wook and Je-Yoon and the 3 ladies – Ah-Yeon, Ji Hyun all of whom use the names of the actors (for added believability?) and Charlotte (Moon Ye-Won) who clearly decided to not follow the pack. Despite spending quite a bit of time with them at the start of the film they soon become interchangeable.

This is one of those found footage escapades, but unlike many of them this at least has people that know how to hold a camera steady – most of the time. They setup remote feeds inside the asylum, each have Go-Pro’s, plus there are professional video cameras – so unlike many of this type of movie from this sub-genre most of the footage, which is supposed to be a live stream, doesn’t give you a migraine from all the bobbing about, though there is some shakycam as things progress.

Whilst this is a HD Blu Ray presentation, the footage inevitably varies in quality, due to the very nature of shooting on various different cameras. It’s all kind of familiar territory, and we know how this will play out, though it is effectively done within the parameters of the found footage style and there aren’t too many occasions where it crosses the line into the “why are you still filming” scenario. Whilst I am no big fan of this type of movie this is better than most.

Steve Kirkham

EXTRAS
4 stars

New audio commentary by horror journalist Mary Beth McAndrews and film critic Terry Mesnard

Fear the Unknown: Horror critic Zoë Rose Smith video essay on Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (22 mins)

Archive featuerettes:
The Beginning of the Rumours – talking heads short with Director Jun Bum-shik, Director of photography Yoon Jong-Ho and Art Director Jung Sung (4 mins)

The New Faces – about casting the film and audition footage (6 mins)

The Sanctum of Horror – about the location used and the sets (10 mins)

The Truth of the Ghostlore – about creating the ghosts for the film (7 mins)

The Live Recording – looking at how the film was shot (12 mins)

The Press Conference (15 mins)

Trailers

Limited Edition you also get: Rigid slipcase with new artwork by Luke Headland/70-page book with new essays by Sarah Appleton James Marsh, Meagan Navarro and Amber T/6 collectors’ art cards