Korean cinema has always been at the forefront of the horror genre, with many Korean horror films remade into English blockbusters. Needless to say, the quality of horror in South Korean films is beyond any casual scare-fest. Here are 5 of the best Korean horror films for your consideration this Halloween.
If you’re looking for a rather phlegmatic, female-oriented variant of K-Horror, Hotel Lake is going to be something you’ll never forget (rather, you won’t be able to). The debuting director Yoon Eun Kyung dedicates most of her effort into creating the perfect atmospheric setting for this film and the rest into constructing bone-chilling scenes. Han Yu Mi (Lee Se Young, Horror Stories 2, Duck Town) is a young college graduate looking for work when she is suddenly notified that she is now the legal guardian of her half-sister Ji Woo (Park So Yi). Yu Mi, nonplussed at her new responsibility, decided to drop the kid off at a family friend, Miss Park’s mountainside resort. While the sisters are welcomed warmly, something evil is afoot, crawling under the walls.
A shamanic ritual has gone terribly wrong, an isolated house in the countryside, a lonesome father-daughter couple suffering from tragic PTSD symptoms, and a supernatural pattern of child abductions. Director Kim Gwang Bin has made sure that his horror debut has all the prerequisites for the perfect horror flick. However, The Closet digs far deeper than one may assume on a surface level. Starring Hallyu superstar Ha Jung Woo, The Closet worked with already sky-high expectations, and it delivered flawlessly. Besides, this medium-budget film's CGI and technical achievements were way more impressive than it should have been.
'Warning: Do Not Play'
Warning: Do Not Play marks the much-anticipated return of director Kim Jin Won, whose debut feature The Butcher (2007) is definitely one of the goriest and most extreme horror films ever made in South Korea. Though frowned upon by viewers not fond of horror, fans of the same were reasonably thrilled by this film. Additionally, featuring So Ye Ji only amplified the hype. However, all the eagerness was not for naught. The film follows Mi Jeong, a film school graduate who discovers a cursed horror film tape and navigates her descent into the abyssal depths of supernatural terror and her uncontrollable obsession with creating something just as potent as what she’s tormented by.
Also known as Possessed, this horror masterpiece is directed by Lee Yong Ju and stars Nam Sang Mi and Shim Eun Kyung. Very simply put, ‘Living Death’ has to be one of the best horror films made in South Korea owing to its originality, realism, technicality, and the way it toys with genre conventions. It steers clear of the tried and tested clichés but instead creates new standards for horror. When Hee Jin (played by Nam Sang Mi) finds out that her sister has gone missing, her mother has resorted to fanatic religion devoid of all rationalism. A dead neighbor has left a will for her sister and begins hearing rumors about a possession. Nightmares haunt her, and mysteries keep eluding understanding in this chilling derivative of Korean horror.
Released in 2001, Sorum, the directorial debut of Yoon Jong Chan, was praised by fans and critics alike. While not outright frightening, Sorum resorts to a slow burn. Hell once again is found in other people when a young taxi driver moves into a dilapidated old building, also the site of a terrible tragedy from the past. Everyone living in the apartment building seems connected to the previous tenant of his apartment, who met a mysterious end. Soon he realizes that something rotten exists in the building, or maybe within the people.