Friday, June 14, 2024

Exhuma (2024)

Streaming Service: Shudder 
Movie Name/Year: Exhuma (2024)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller 
Length: 2h 14min
Rating: Unrated
Director: Jang Jae-hyun
Writer: Jang Jae-hyun
Actors: Kim Go-eun, Choi Min-sik, Lee Do-hyun, Jung Yun-Ha, Yoo Hae-jin, Hong Seo-jun, Jeon Jin-ki, Kim Jae-cheol, Yeong-ran Lee, Lee Jong-goo, Park Ji-il, Kim Tae-Joon-Iii
Shudder Blurb: When a renowned shaman (KIM Go-Eun) and her protégé (Lee Do-hyun) are hired by a wealthy, enigmatic family, they begin investigating the cause of a disturbing supernatural illness that affects only the first-born children of each generation. With the help of a knowledgeable mortician (YOO Hai-jin) and the country’s most revered geomancer (CHOI Min-sik), they soon trace the affliction’s origin to a long-hidden family grave located on sacred ground. Sensing an ominous aura surrounding the burial site, the team opts to exhume and relocate the ancestral remains immediately. But as something much darker emerges, they soon discover what befalls those who dare to mess with the wrong grave.
Cat’s Point of View:
I was really excited about getting a chance to watch Exhuma this month. While it might have appeared otherwise, based on my personal Top 20 list for June, I can assure you that it wasn't absent for lack of anticipation or any early judgement on quality. The trailer made it clear that something interesting and ominous was going on in Exhuma. The only question for me was whether or not the Korean traditions, beliefs, and rituals would “translate” well to an un-initiated “western” audience.
To the credit of the entire production team from writing/directing all the way through set, cast, crew, and subtitle-writers. I had no trouble following along, even when events delved into matters I was unfamiliar with. Let me tell you, that was a lot. I knew next to nothing about Korean burial customs and any related rituals, beliefs, or superstitions before watching Exhuma. Of course, this story is about things going extremely awry, so it was, understandably, far and away from a normal situation. I found the insight into Korean traditions fascinating, and I forgot I was reading subtitles as I was watching.
As a related aside, the actors portraying shamans in Exhuma worked with their real-world counterparts to train in preparation for this movie, and the real shamans were available for consultation during production. This information has been made known through various sources and interviews, backing up the trivia nuggets on IMDb. I found one such article here, where a viewer interviewed an authentic Korean shaman to establish the legitimacy of the acted practices shown within the film. (Note, there are mild spoilers in that article so maybe check it out after you watch if you don't want to learn things that might give elements of the movie away.)
Exhuma's story was framed in what could essentially be called chapters, as if the movie was giving us a visual novel. The suspense and unease was palpable, and I appreciated how the supernatural was portrayed without need for enormous amounts of CGI. There were so many subtle layers involved.
I also appreciated how Exhuma explored a bit of generational trauma as it impacts individual people as well as a culture on the whole.
While Exhuma didn't have the edge-of-your seat action of Korean horror classic Train to Busan (2016), it was still a gripping tale worthy to be known as a significant offering to the genre from that region. If you're a fan of ghost stories from other cultures with a sprinkling of history involved, I'd recommend giving Exhuma a shot.
Exhuma released today, June 14th, 2024 on Shudder.
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 90%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – 7.4/10
IMDB Score – 6.9/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating   - PG-13
Movie Trailer:

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