Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018) Dir Jung Bum-Shik

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018) Dir Jung Bum-Shik

I was browsing reddit last week when I came across a post about a guy who was looking for some found footage movie recommendations, if anyone brings up found footage, I always scan the page to see if there are any standouts on there that I haven’t seen or heard of, as I absolutely love the found footage genre, and both me and my husband can genuinely be found with a blanket on the sofa hiding parts of our face when watching them. I hadn’t heard of Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum before but a quick look up on google and letterbox assured me that it wasn’t going to be terrible!

The basic premise follows a group of individuals streaming their escapade around the abandoned Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital as part of a live-streaming event, with the aim being to get enough people watching that they make loads of money!

While the general premise/setup is similar to Grave Encounters (2011), it does differentiate itself quite well. Each member of the group that goes into Gonjiam wears a contraption that films their POV and a close up of their face simultaneously, which I thought was a nice unique touch and the use of close up camera shots of their faces provides a few terrifying scenes that I’m sure my husband would love to rid his memory of!

The total runtime is 91 minutes, which provides for a nice easy one to watch in the evening after work, it doesn’t waste anytime getting into it and by the 25 minute mark you see the ‘Horror Time Terror Squad’ as they call themselves, entering Gonjiam. The last 30 minutes is when it all ‘kicks off’ with my favourite spooky shot popping up at the 1h11 mark.

The movie was actually based on a real-life psychiatric hospital of the same name, prior to the films release, the owner of the Asylum filed a lawsuit attempting to stop the movie being shown in theatres out of fear that it would attract negative attention and therefore effect the sale of the building. The court ruled in favour of the film and within a few months of the movie being released, the original Gonjiam was demolished (Yoon Min-Sik, 2018 ‘Navigating the dark corners of a haunted asylum’).

While the film wasn’t shot in the real life Gonjiam (although I’m not sure that would have been a great idea regardless, as the location was on CNN’s 2012 “seven freakiest places on the planet”), the production team went above and beyond in the detail, recreating the exterior and the hallways to match, despite being filmed in a high school in Busan. I can see why it’s the third most watched horror film in South Korea!

Overall, I felt Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018) had some great scares, I can only think of one scene where I felt the shot lingered too long causing my adrenaline to calm down but it makes up for it with plenty of scares throughout the last 30 mins.


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