Vampire Owl: Another Korean horror film with monsters? That sounds good.
Vampire Bat: Korean movies have some fine monsters.
Vampire Owl: I wish that I could invite a few of them here.
Vampire Bat: Monsters are not allowed here. They are considered the same as werewolves and zombies.
Vampire Owl: But dead monsters are allowed.
Vampire Bat: Well, we do give them honorable burial in the cemetery.
Vampire Owl: Why would a monster come here to be buried?
Vampire Bat: We are now promoting burial tourism.
Vampire Owl: Now you are giving those kinds of ads?
Vampire Bat: Yes, the ads are very popular now.
[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of cardamom tea].
What is the movie about? :: A long time ago, a monster roamed free, and intended to create eternal suffering for humans. Unable to kill it, the Buddha was finally able to stop the monster by taking out its eyes, coloured black and red. The red eye continued fighting, and when the Buddha was finally able to stop the red eye, he placed it along with the black one in different caskets. He buried one eye in the great hills of the Far East, and the other eye he buried in the great deserts of the Far West, hoping to make sure that these would never meet and bring the monster back. In the year 2005, a professor Kim Joon-cheol (Choi Jin-ho) wants to prove that the Buddhist myth is real, and finds one of the eyes in the India-Pakistan border. But he is disgraced, and people don’t believe in him. The media makes fun of him, and the authorities say that what he has with him is forged. This angers him, and after many years, he still wants to let everyone know that he was telling the truth.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: He reawakens the monster’s red eye, and open the gates of hell, in an attempt to prove that the Buddish myth real, thus also making people realize that he is not a liar. Monk Ha-jung (Lee Eol), a protector of one of the caskets, understands that the red eye has reawakened, as he alwso wakes up from his meditation. He asks another monk Chung-seok (Nam Da-reum) to seek Park Jin-soo (Lee Sung-min), a construction worker who was banished from the monk community – the one who is supposed to be born to stop the eyes’ reunification. All these were foretold, and the prophecy is to be fulfilled – if the eyes are united, on the eighth night, the monster will be unleashed, and it will unstoppable. At the same time, Detective Kim Ho-tae (Park Hae-joon) is also working in the case of the strange corpses that the red eye leaves behind after its grand awakening. But are these people good enough to stop the evil which seems to possess so many people and murder many of them?
The defence of The 8th Night :: The movie has some good divergence with its myth as well as the horror that it brings. There are also the characters who have some interesting past to go with the present, and are defined by past, present and future. The mythological elements about the monster works really well, and its effectiveness only increases as the movie goes forward. There is a certain amount of quality which has been maintained in its use of properties. It uses the settings of the city quite well to gaining advantage in horror. One would initially have the doubt about what a horror movie can do with two eyes lying apart and coming together at some other point of time – how can random eyes be horror? Well, this one answers the same quite well, and has a number of moments which bring some divergent horror, different from what we expect and what we have been seeing. The idea of the ancient prophecies and monsters is used effectively here as the journey never gets less interesting.
Positives and negatives :: The movie could have had more grandeur in the establishment of the characters and terror which is unleashed, and some moments don’t contribute that much like it was intended. It also gets very complicated at times, and also a bit slow in some moments. There is a lot of mystery about what has been happening around here, and with this kind of a monster, you have absolutely no idea what can happen next – it keeps us guessing as well as thinking. There are some shots which are so good and effective that they stay with us for long enough. They have captured the essence of nature, as the movie goes forward with its battle between good and evil too. The eerie feeling which this movie provides, might seem different than the usual, that we would get elsewhere. South Korean movies are pretty much rich in providing some symbolic horror, and this one also does try to deviate from the normal and most traveled course of action for the best. The movie also has some service as an investigative thriller – we know how the spirits and real-life investigations of crimes go together, like in the case of Malayalam movie, Cold Case.
The performers of the soul :: Lee Sung-min whom we have known from Hit-and-Run Squad leads the way as the man who is part of different missions, having violence and non-violence on two different sides, none of them leaving him, as he serves as the guardian. He has moments as he comes out of the past to face the present, in an attempt to the save the future for everyone in this world. It is a solid work that suits the personality that we see here, strong and with better different abilities than an average monk would possess. Park Hae-joon plays the detective, and he does that in a convincing manner, even though he remains a foolish believer in science and logic only. A detective in a movie dealing with magic and myth might feel out of the place, but he does make sure that it is not the case here, and there is a lot to be done from his side too. Kim Yoo-jung plays the female character with most screen presence, and she makes another interesting character of significance. Choi Jin-ho plays the man who begins all of these, and one can only wish that his scenes were more chaotic in nature too. Nam Da-reum is the usual apprentice who doesn’t know enough until he changes in the end.
How it finishes :: The 8th Night has the ability to rise beyond the typical horror story that we have, with all the monsters coming out of hell, as it establishes the myth, and follows it up with enough horror to go with it. With an investigation which is nicely managed, this one goes forward in an interesting manner. There is the message about destiny, and the roles that one is supposed to perform in this world, as well as something about where conscience comes into play. With the visuals adding to the mystery and horror, we know that this could be another classic horror flick like Train to Busan and The Wailing, which could rise above the rest many years ago, and the later arrivals like Svaha, Metamorphosis an The Divine Fury. You are never really short of some interesting Korean movies to watch, and The 8th Night is the film which you can add to the list of what can be recommended to the horror fans. This is also not to be confused with the Malayalam movie, 7th Day which deals with another investigation of murders.
Release date: 2nd July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Kim Tae-hyoung
Starring: Lee Sung-min, Park Hae-joon, Kim Yoo-jung, Nam Da-reum, Choi Jin-ho, Park Se-hyun, Lee Eol, Kim Han-sol
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.