Exhuma (파묘/Pamyo/2024) Korean Movie Review

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Exhuma (파묘/Pamyo) is a thrilling movie from South Korea, that gives us captivating and engaging horror viewing experiences. This eerie and mysterious film has a refined mix of Korean folklore with Japanese fable.

In addition, this film draws quite a few references and stories related to real Korean history. So, the film talks about the visit of the Japanese forces to Korea as well as the period when Japan ruled Korea for a few decades.

‘Exhuma’ Smartly Uses East Asian Folklores To Weave A Horror Flick

Trailer: Exhuma (Pamyo/2024) Movie

Official Trailer – Exhuma (2024) Movie – Columbia Pictures | YouTube.

Synopsis: Exhuma (Pamyo/2024) Movie

After suffering from serial paranormal events, a wealthy (Park) family living in LA summons a young rising shaman duo Hwa Rim (Kim Go-eun) and Bong Gil (Lee Do-hyun) to save the newborn of the family. Once they arrive, Hwa Rim senses a dark shadow of their ancestor latched on the family in a so-called ‘Grave Calling’. In order to exhume the grave and relieve the ancestor, Hwa Rim seeks help from top-notch geomancer Kim Sang Deok (Choi Min-sik) and mortician Ko Young Geun (Yoo Hae-jin). To their dismay, the four find the grave at a shady location in a remote village in Korea. Unaware of the consequences, the exhumation is carried out, unleashing a malevolent force buried underneath. Thus, the process of excavating an ominous grave unleashes dreadful consequences buried underneath.

Yoo Hae-jin (Ko Young Geun), Lee Do-hyun (Bong Gil), Kim Go-eun (Hwa Rim), & Choi Min-sik (Kim Sang Deok). [From Left to Right]

Spoiler Free Review: Exhuma (2024) Movie

The introduction

It seems that the ‘Exhuma’ movie title is perhaps derived from the ‘Exhume’ word, which in the film means to dig a dead body (and other sinister spirits) out of the earth. It is fascinating to note that the film draws inspiration from the popular folk tales prevalent in the East Asian nations of Korea and Japan. Also, the ‘Exhuma (Pamyo)’ movie highlights the impact of colonialism and religious beliefs on society and nation as a whole. It is a complex story, so we have shared the explanations in the spoilers below.

We liked the story of this intricate film

We liked the intricately layered story of this eerie film. The issues of mythicism, deaths, afterlives, spirits, tortured souls, sinister ghosts, etc. trace their origin in East Asian philosophy. Even the Buddhist religious belief plays an important part, which incidentally originated in our part of the world, in Bihar. Given these similar ideological principles, it was easier to understand the concept of troubled souls and vicious spirits.

We have heard similar folktales and witnessed relatable shaman practices in our society. According to our belief system, good spirits and bad ghosts are part and parcel of society. And one has to find a way to co-exist with them peacefully. Thereby, perhaps minimise their adverse repercussion in our lives. But, then the wrong burial and the exhume of a burial site unleashes chaos and mayhem.

Also, we liked the acting by its ensemble cast

In this supernatural thriller, beautiful Kim Go-eun (Hwa Rim) credibly plays the role of a shaman. In fact, we have seen shamans (and priests) use hen birds (roosters) during religious ceremonies in our part of the world.

The film director disclosed that the actors studied real rituals from shamans in order to accurately portray them in this film.

During an interview, Kim Go-eun shared her apprehensions about potentially becoming fixated or encountering supernatural phenomena. She explained that her on-screen activities, like praying and conducting exorcisms, closely resembled those performed by actual shamans. Nevertheless, a real shaman who collaborated on the film reassured her that there was no cause for concern.

The lead actress Kim Go-eun is very well supported by Lee Do-hyun (Bong Gil, a shaman) Yoo Hae-jin (Ko Young Geun, a mortician) and Choi Min-sik (Kim Sang Deok, a geomancer) in the film. We liked their team.

The conclusion

The writer and director Jae-hyun Jang deserve much praise for the story and this well-made horror flick. In addition, Jang also uses quite a few insightful facts in the film, perhaps as an ode to South Korean history.

As per the director Jang, the main characters' names in the film were derived from patriotic martyrs of South Korea who bravely opposed Japanese colonial rule, including Kim Sang-deok, Ko Young-geun, Lee Hwa-rim, and Yoon Bong-gil. Also, it is worth noting that the license plate numbers of the main characters' vehicles have a connection to the independence movements of South Korea.

One of the differentiating aspects of this film is that it is not a regular run-of-the-mill horror film. Steeped in Korean history, religious beliefs, folklore, etc.; it is an intriguing and riveting thriller film to watch.

Rating: Exhuma (Pamyo/2024) Movie

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
FM Rating3.75/5
Exhuma (Pamyo/2024) Movie – FM Rating.

Posters: Exhuma (Pamyo/2024) Movie

Key Details: Exhuma (Pamyo/2024) Movie

GenreHorror, Mystery, Thriller
Original languageKorean (South Korea)
Original title파묘/Pamyo (this title means digging)
Duration2 hours 14 minutes
Age-restrictionsR (18+)
WriterJae-hyun Jang
DirectorJae-hyun Jang
CastKim Go-eun (Hwarim), Lee Do-hyun (Bong Gil), Choi Min-sik (Kim Sang Deok), Yoo Hae-jin (Ko Young Geun), etc.
TaglinesThe Vicious Emerges
About – Exhuma (Pamyo/2024) Movie.

Spoilers Alert: Explanation of Horror flick

About the Park Family and Grandfather Park in the film – The Explanations.

Park family

In the era of Japanese occupation in Korea, several Korean individuals opted to betray their homeland and fellow citizens in favour of Japan, seeking power, privilege, and wealth. The wealthy Parks family in America traces their lineage back to one such individual. Their grandfather chose to betray Korea, gaining riches, influence, and a position of great power in return. This is the disgraceful family secret that the Parks were reluctant to disclose.

Angry & Vengeful Grandfather Park

The introduction of the film adeptly illustrates the challenges faced by the Park Family due to the improper burial of their ancestor. That mistake has resulted in life threats to the Park Family members.

Soon we came to know in the film that Grandfather Park’s burial was in a negative and vile location. It was done on top of a metal rod obstructing Korean land energy. Besides, it was atop an evil demon general anima monster. Grandfather Park’s horrible burial site created a hostile environment for his spirit. In addition, because of his descendants’ neglect and failure to visit his grave, Grandpa Park’s resentment towards them grew over generations, as depicted in a conversation at the morgue. And when his resentful spirit is unleashed, he embarks on a vengeful quest to hunt down his descendants in a state of rage and resentment. These incidents kickstarted a horrific chain of events.

The Gisune and how did ‘the Fox split the spine of the tiger’ – The Explanations.

The Gisune (or Kitsune)

In reminiscences of the past, the mysterious Japanese figure known as “Gisune” was a powerful civil servant (Onmyōji), often associated with a fox-like resemblance due to his pale countenance.

We learn in the film that Hwa Rim’s instructor once encountered him and commented on the intense and seemingly otherworldly nature of his spirit. It is intriguing to consider that “Gisune” might actually be a misinterpretation by the Korean populace of the Japanese term “Kitsune,” which denotes a Japanese fox spirit or East Asian ghost (Youkai) that is sometimes revered as a deity or feared as a monstrous entity in Japan. According to Japanese folklore, “Kitsune” possess formidable spiritual abilities and can transform into human form to seamlessly integrate into society.

How did the Fox split the spine of the tiger?

Based on Korean folklore, one of the key characters in the film claims that a Japanese (Gisune/Kitsune) figure strategically placed metal rods in specific locations across Korea to intercept the natural energy flow of the land. These metal rods act as barriers, preventing the Korean people from experiencing any depletion in strength, energy, prosperity, and fortune. The movie highlights a reference to the fox splitting the spine of the tiger, symbolizing the Korean peninsula’s vulnerability.

The said location was detailed as – 38.3417 latitude & 128.3189 longitude (38°20’30.1″N & 128°19’08.0″E).

The role of the Grave Robbers and the horrific truth about the burial site – The Explanations

The burial site with negative energy

In order to protect the metal rods from being tampered with at the said burial site, the Gisune (Kitsune/a Japanese fox) transformed into a demon by using the body of a Japanese general. This Japanese General was notoriously known for killing many people. Therefore, this (General/Soldier) demon, manifested in a flaming metal sword, was designated as the guardian of the burial site. So, his coffin was placed vertically to serve as a symbolic rod of the burial site. Moreover, Gisune also advised the Park Family to bury their grandfather at the site to ensure its protection from grave robbers. Whether the Park Family members were aware of Gisune’s plan remains unclear, but it is evident that Gisune’s primary concern was safeguarding the said burial site.

Grave Robbers

It seems that the so-called “grave robbers” were a group of resourceful and highly motivated Korean men. Most probably, they were Taoists, who believed in spiritual immortality, where the spirit of the body joins the universe after death. So, these Taoists travelled across Korea to retrieve metal rods, leaving behind tools marked with their names and spiritual symbols, and the metal rods collected from various burial sites. Their belongings included an instruction book outlining their Taoist beliefs. The book also explained the roles of the five elements: earth, fire, water, metal, and wood.

How did they defeat the powerful Anima in the end – The explanations.

They used the Taoism principle to vanish the Anima

Well, the important Taoist principles are inaction, simplicity and living in harmony with nature. So, the Taoist principle rested on a belief in the law of the unity of the two opposite forces: yin and yang.

In the film, Geomancer Kim had read the Taoists’ book left by the so-called grave robbers and noticed a discrepancy. Contrary to what the book stated, there was no metal rod present in the grave. This discovery strengthened his conviction. Initially, he had not realized that the Anima, the essence of life, was embodied by the metal rod. However, through his visions, he witnessed the creation of the Anima and came to understand that the flaming metal sword served as the vessel for its formation.

As a result, the Anima itself represented the metal rod at the burial site. This newfound understanding, combined with the opposing elements emphasized by the Taoists, led to a significant revelation for him.

Firstly, the Anima materialized through the fusion of flame and metal.

Secondly, the water acted as a counterforce to fire, while wood countered metal.

Therefore, damp wood would neutralize the power of the flaming metal. This realization played a crucial role in overcoming Anima and defeating him in the end.

Awards won by this Korean Horror Movie

Name of the AwardAwards Winners and their particulars
Baek Sang Art AwardsArt Award – 2024 Winner Baek Sang Film

Kim Go-eun – 2024 Winner Baek Sang Film – Best Actress

Jae-hyun Jang – 2024 Winner Baek Sang Film – Best Director

Lee Do-hyun – 2024 Winner Baek Sang Film – Best New Actor
Awards – Exhuma (Pamyo/2024) Movie

Poster, Other and Featured Images of the Exhuma (Pamyo/2024) Movie are courtesy of IMDb.

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