Halloween, which falls on October 31st yearly, is a celebration observed in several countries. On that day, children dressed in costumes travel from house to house, asking for candies with the phrase “Trick or Treat”. Adults might host parties at their house, sit down, and watch some horror movies together. One such movie that I recommend watching—to spook you and your friends—is none other than ‘Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum‘.

The 2018 South Korean found footage horror film is directed by Jung Bum-shik, based on a real-life psychiatric hospital of the same name. The cast of the movie does not boast of any famous names—instead, it contains relatively unknown actors and actresses such as Wi Ha-joonPark Ji-hyunOh Ah-yeonMoon Ye-wonPark Sung-hoonYoo Je-yoon, and Lee Seung-wook. The plot revolves around a horror web series crew who travels to an abandoned asylum to garner views for their broadcast. While they were live-streaming, strange and horrifying incidents started happening to them.

I am not someone who gets scared while watching horror movies. I have watched horror flicks such as ‘Ju-On‘ and ‘Sadako 3D‘ (in a movie theater by myself), and they hardly raised my heartbeat at all. But ‘Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum‘ is a different story. Even when watching the movie together with family and friends, I still get seriously spooked out by the scenes in the movie. Director Jung Bum-shik‘s take on the “found footage” genre raised horror to a completely new level.

The characters in the movie are each equipped with a camera rig that filmed both them and their point of view. Helming the broadcast from a tent just outside of the building is team captain Ha-joon. Unbeknownst to most of the crew members, the eerie events were just pranks by the team leader to boost online views. However, the pranks and tricks started veering off-script, and this is when things started getting scary with a hint of supernatural forces at work. For example, when Ji-hyun tried imitating Seung-wook by putting her arm into a hole in a coffin-like closet and pretended to be pulled, some unknown supernatural force really pulled her arm and also scratched her in the process, causing mass panic among everyone. Several more incidents happen along the way as the crew tries to escape from the asylum while their views-obsessed team leader commands them to stay, insisting that all the unnatural incidents are just pranks.

I am really impressed by this movie, as all the actors and actresses put in all their emotions into their acting. Their convincing performances added chills to the set-up, and their chemistry with one another felt totally natural. Save for Moon Ye-won who acted as Charlotte, the rest of the cast used their real name for the film—adding to the realism of the movie. The movie was also filmed in a style where it seemed like we were watching what was happening there in real-time. It’s no wonder that it instantly rose to the top of the South Korean box office when it was released. I highly recommend watching this horror flick with your family this coming Halloween. A fair warning to everyone, this movie isn’t for the faint-hearted and should never be watched alone.

Story: 8.5/10
Acting: 9.5/10
Cinematography: 9/10
Cast: 9.5/10
Spook Factor: 9.5/10