The Chosen: Forbidden Cave (퇴마: 무녀굴) – ★☆☆☆☆

The Chosen: Forbidden Cave (퇴마: 무녀굴)

The Chosen: Forbidden Cave (퇴마: 무녀굴)

N.B. This review is based on the Bucheon Fantastic Film Festival 2015 edit, screened at the closing ceremony.

Psychologist Jin-myeong (Kim Seong-gyoon (김성균) is unique in his trade as one of the few professionals who considers supernatural phenomena when treating clients, performing exorcisms with apprentice Ji-gwang (Kim Hye-seong (김혜성) when the need arises. Due to his unorthodox methods Jin-myeong has earned a notable reputation, attracting the unwanted attention of documentary producer Hye-in (Cha Ye-ryeon (차예련). Yet they are forced to combine their efforts when a disturbing new case occurs, as art curator Geum-joo (Yoo Seon (유선) is at the mercy of a particularly vindictive spirit, the secrets of which originate from forgotten childhood memories and a ghostly cave.

Geun-joo's possession proves an extremely difficult task for psychologist:exorcist Jin-myeong

Geun-joo’s possession proves an extremely difficult task for psychologist/exorcist Jin-myeong

With a solid premise but poor execution, director Kim Hwi’s horror/thriller The Chosen: Forbidden Cave is heavy on frustration and light on scares. As the closing film for BiFan’s 2015 edition, the festival’s claim of the film’s ability to ‘punch up the horror scene’ in the industry is unfortunately pure hyperbole as The Chosen is, aside from a few well-constructed set-pieces, a bland addition in dire need of a re-edit.

The Chosen: Forbidden Cave begins in intriguing fashion as Jin-myeong lectures on the importance of shamanism when considering diagnosis, with a handful of scares to sell the concept. Yet from there the narrative rapidly descends into chaos as characters and themes randomly arise and recede, with the audience expected to instinctively know their place within the story. Jin-myeong appears to have the ability of foresight through dreams yet it is never made clear while a subplot, possibly involving  his wife and a botched exorcism, is never explained; his subordinate Ji-gwang just seemingly appears during consultations while his supernatural gifts – other than furiously shaking a plant during treatments – are not ascertained; documentary producer Hye-in’s history and motivations are not revealed; and most importantly, there is zero logic in the aimless actions of the vindictive spirit that inhabits Geum-joo. Frustration quickly sets in as characters and events occur randomly, with a re-edit, and much greater elaboration and development, sorely needed.

The search for answers to Geum-joo's affliction takes the team into horrific territory

The search for answers to Geum-joo’s affliction takes the team into horrific territory

While the ghost that inhabits Geum-joo is aggravatingly indiscriminate, the haphazard nature allows director Kim to stage a variety of horror set pieces that are generally well-constructed. While they are cliche and form a story more akin to a series of horror sequences than a coherent whole, the macabre scenes serve to present the tropes expected from the genre. Problematically however, as there are so many sequences of this manner, the impact and effectiveness of the horror is lost as audiences become increasingly immune.

Furthermore, the use of the 1948 Jeju Massacre as the ultimate source of terror within The Chosen is in particularly bad taste. Not that the tragic event doesn’t lend itself well to the genre, but the manner in which the tragedy is employed and interpreted as antiquated and misandrist, in need of purging by contemporary patriarchy and Christianity, is borderline offensive.

Actor Kim Seong-gyoon fares the best as psychologist/exorcist Jin-myeong within The Chosen. His stoic turn as the broad-minded professional halts emotional investment in the journey yet provides a solid foundation from which the events revolve around. The rest of the cast do not prosper as well. Yoo Seon is generally required to run around screaming and crying, while Cha Ye-ryeon and Kim Hye-seong are present merely to appear attractive and little else.

Horrific truths await in the cave

Horrific truths await in the cave


Aside from a solid premise and the occasional well-constructed horror sequence, The Chosen: Forbidden Cave is a big misstep from director Kim Hwi. The events and characters within the film appear and recede indiscriminately throughout the haphazard narrative while any sort of development is a rarity. The Chosen is a frustratingly bland addition to the K-horror scene.


Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (제 19회 부천국제판타스틱영화제) Festival News Korean Film Festivals 2015 Reviews

BiFan 2015 – Korean Feature Films Part 1

BiFan 2015From July 16th~26th, the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BiFan) will commence its 19th edition.

Asia’s biggest genre film extravaganza, BiFan (previously called PiFan) boasts a larger scale than ever before which is sure to please cineastes. Out of the 235 films due to be screened, 62 are world premieres while 61 will receive their Asian debut.

BiFan 2015 hosts an incredible range of programmes including staples such as Bucheon Choice and World Fantastic Cinema, in conjunction with more specialised categories that honour particular filmmakers and creative output as with I’m (not) Sono Sion, Mexican Genre Film Showcase, and Excellent Actor, Nice Guy Simon Yam.

Amongst all the international films to be screened, Korea will also make its presence known through a variety of genre offerings, as well as closing the festival as has occurred in previous years with The Terror Live and My Ordinary Love Story.

To see the Korean films being featured at BiFan, please see below.

For PART 2 of our BiFan profile, please click here.

Closing Film

The Chosen: Forbidden Cave (퇴마: 무녀굴) – director Kim Hui (김휘)

A psychologist must discover a secret to perform an exorcism

A psychologist must discover a secret to perform an exorcism

BiFan 2015 will close with a horror/thriller, based on Shin Jin-oh’s 201- novel ‘Moonyeogool.’ The film follows exorcist/psychologist Jin-myeong as he works on a case to free a client from a potentially dangerous spirit, yet to do so he must uncover a powerful secret. The Chosen is directed by Kim Hui, whose previous work includes Horror Stories 2 and Neighbours, and early buzz is particularly strong.

Bucheon Choice: Feature

Coin Locker Girl (차이나타운) – director Han Jun-hee (한준희)

The matriarch of a criminal empire has big plans

The matriarch of a criminal empire has big plans

Urban crime drama Coin Locker Girl was a surprise hit upon release in April, grossing over $10 million. The film is visually impressive and features a wonderfully transformative performance by Kim Hye-su, as she adopts the role of a crime boss matriarch who turns on an enforcer (Kim Go-eun), and as such finds itself in competition at BiFan. You can read the review here.

Tattooist (타투이스트) – director Lee Seo (이서)

Soo-na notices something strange about a client's tattoo

Soo-na notices something strange about a client’s tattoo

The second Korean film in competition is thriller Tattooist. Soo-na, a beautiful yet somewhat disturbed tattoo artist, is asked to design the mythical character Medusa on a new client’s back. Yet she begins to notice a correlation between the ink and a murder case involving young girls. Tattooist features renowned TV drama actors Yoon Jun-hee and Song Il-gook.

World Fantastic Cinema

Boy From Wonderland (앨리스: 원더랜드에서 온 소년) – director Huh Eun-hee (허은희)

Hye is haunted by nightmares and seeks the truth

Hye is haunted by nightmares and seeks the truth

Appearing to amalgamate fantasy, horror and thriller conventions, Boy From Wonderland depicts nightmare sufferer Hye-joong (Jung So-min) whose dreams have become so severe that they threaten her very life. To find the source of her terrors she travels to a lodge she visited 24 years prior and meets the mysterious Hwan (Hong Jong-hyun).

Malice (멜리스) – director Kim Yong-woon (김용운)

Ga-in's jealousy becomes out of control

Ga-in’s jealousy becomes out of control

Ripley’s Syndrome informs the central premise of director Kim Yong-woon’s thriller, as a young woman becomes obsessed with her best friend’s life and begins to try and assume her very identity, including seducing her husband and stealing her child. Malice stars glamorous actress Hong Soo-ah as the psychologically unstable Ga-in.

Super Origin (시발, 놈 – 인류의 시작) – director Baek Seung-gi (백승기)

Unique beings arise 40,000 years ago

Unique beings arise 40,000 years ago

Director Baek Seung-gi made a name for himself with comedy-fantasy Super Virgin, and he returns with another quirky offering in the form of Super Origin. 40,000 years ago a light appeared in the sky and as a result strange beings appeared in the land, and start to form a civilisation, the likes of which has never been seen before.

The Masters

Angry Painter: Director’s Cut (성난 화가 디렉터스 컷) – director Jeon Kyu-hwan (전규환)

Passion, love and anger inform th epainter's world

Passion, love and anger inform the painter’s world

A co-production between Korea and Estonia, Angry Painter tells the tale of two men who operate as violent bounty hunters. When a US soldier kills one of the men and his girlfriend, the remaining partner goes on a violent rampage for justice that takes him into the heart of Europe. Starring Yun Jun-sang.

For PART 2 of our BiFan profile, please click here.

For the full BiFan screening schedule, please follow the link here.

Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (제 19회 부천국제판타스틱영화제) Festival News Korean Film Festivals 2015