Ask any of my fellow Surgeons my thoughts on found footage films and they’ll be quick to tell you of my distain towards this sub-genre. I’m quick to ascend into either boredom of contempt and often find the characters grate or get under my skin and not in a good way.
There have been a few exceptions, the granddaddy of them all, Cannibal Holocaust paved the way before The Blair Witch Project opened the door for the connected generation and was incredibly well marketed for its time. I even have a fondness towards Spanish film (REC) when that was released, as it was able to ground the style of movie and lure you in with the lead character before all hell was unleashed.
Anything else and I struggle to stay tuned-in to the horrors that I being played out in a reality environment.
So it’s an odd thing to find myself lured in by a Korean film called Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum that uses the same style and choice in its direction.
The film focuses on a known haunted location in Japan, Gonjam an old asylum that supposedly houses spirits and the fact that it is an actual place and is as one of the characters states one of the 7 most creepiest locations in the world as listed by CNN, which just cements the reality of it further and allows the viewer to settle into the believable factor.
Following a trio who make up the team from YouTube channel “Horror Times” and six volunteers, they make their way to Gonjam to film a live recording from within the asylum to see if they can capture any of the supposed paranormal activity and reach the record of 1million viewers for their channel.
The last part of the equation is high on the agenda for the channels owner, Ha-Joon, who will stop at nothing to reach his goal, including using his team to manipulate proceedings to draw reactions from the volunteers.
But by tempting the devil, have they got more than they bargained for? Will they awaken something lurking deep within the walls? And what or whom resides in room 402?
I still believe that Gonjam falls prey to the usual found footage trappings, some of the characters do jar a little on occasion and borrows heavily from the previous movies from that genre.
And one particular characteristic of the possession was just fucking annoying. Having said that, it does manage to keep you gripped to the screen and tantalises the senses enough to rise above the bog-standard tropes with some impressive shots in places, using state of the art technology.
– Saul Muerte