Exhuma // Dead Eye Candy For The Soul

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Exhuma is a new South Korean banger here to disturb your peace. It’s also overflowing with so many beautiful images that it’s an embarrassment of riches. It is a movie you will want to experience as an audience member but also want to study as a work of art. I’m not going to beat around the bush with Exhuma. She’s obviously one of the best movies I have seen this year. There are so many nerve-wracking moments supported by stunning cinematography in this delightfully dark film. It’s masterfully told and reveals every turn in a way that basically had me levitating in my seat from excitement.

Exhuma follows paranormal experts hired to investigate a supernatural curse that has plagued a wealthy family for generations. They believe that exhuming an ominous gravesite will solve the issue. However, it just leads to much bigger and scarier problems.

For The Ladies

Writer/director Jang Jae-hyun has crafted a magnificent twisted tale with more tricks up its sleeve than a seasoned magician.  It has that immediate sense of danger and despair of The Wailing. There is something that makes you feel like you have gone too far in your quest to see something scary, and you are walking into danger. However, it also reminded me of The Closet. Not only does the story continue to get bigger as it rolls itself uphill, but it allows a woman to be the expert on the supernatural.

The wealthy family hires Shaman Lee Hwa-rim (Kim Go-eun) and her apprentice, Yoon Bong-gil (Lee Do-hyun). She knows her shit, she’s performing the ceremonies, and she’s doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Exhuma and The Closet give us rituals that are way more interesting than what we typically see in the States. Our supernatural movies are often heavily steeped in Catholicism and the patriarchy, so they become somber affairs. These South Korean gems are giving us movement, mystery, and music. They also include the community in a way that makes sense for them to be there for these dangerous endeavors. These movies turn these ceremonies into events that make you lean forward. I want to see way more of these with women front and center. 

This Movie Is Stunning

I cannot stress enough that this film is a feast for the eyes while it also continues raising the stakes. Everyone is in danger, including newborn babies, as Exhuma continues its quest to outdo itself every five minutes. Exhuma is the type of horror film that replenishes my genre electrolytes and reaffirms that many of the best movies this year will not be “mainstream”. This movie will be in so many top 10 lists at the end of the year. More importantly, it will be a crime against cinema if it is not considered for every technical and design award.

Exhuma is possibly the most gorgeous and creepy movie we’ll see in 2024. It’s not afraid to give you beautiful shots before throwing you to some truly upsetting imagery that will sit with you for days. I don’t often use words like “lush” and “ beautiful” to describe the creepy content I mainline. However, this movie is a work of art. Nearly every frame belongs in a museum. Even while people were being impaled or babies were in danger, I found my breath being taken away by how pretty it was. I’m worried Exhuma has changed my brain chemistry because everything else looks flat now. 

I Want More Time Here

The runtime is my only note, but it is not a simple complaint this time. Unlike many movies that run over the two-hour mark without earning it, Exhuma uses every second. However, it does begin to feel like too much of a good thing in the back half. Many moments in the last few chapters lose a little luster simply because we have sat too long. I spent too much time thinking about this problem because I deserve all this lush imagery. I crave the mayhem and unsettling bits that remind me why I love horror.

Weirdly enough, I think this movie would’ve been a badass limited series. It’s already broken into chapters, and there is still much to explore. It would’ve been so cool to have a little breather every 20-30 minutes. This would allow the audience time to process all of this cool stuff, piece together clues, and geek out over the gorgeous shots. It might’ve also encouraged Jae-hyun to give us even more than the 134-minute runtime. 

Again, this is a stunning, creepy, haunting gem. It’s also long but has so much more it could play with. Maybe that’s just me being greedy because I love this movie and want more time in the world. However, I doubt I’m the only person who would tune into a few seasons and love every second. Exhuma is so rich that I would love to return to it a few times instead of greedily devouring it all in one sitting.

Exhuma is available on VOD and Shudder.