Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum

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Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum
Gonjiam Haunted Asylum (film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Hangul곤지암
Hanja昆池岩
Revised RomanizationGonjiam
Directed byJung Bum-shik
Written byJung Bum-shik
Park Sang-min
Produced byKim Won-kuk
Starring
CinematographyYoon Byung-ho
Production
companies
Hive Mediacorp
Distributed byShowbox
Release date
  • March 28, 2018 (2018-03-28)
Running time
91 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
LanguageKorean
BudgetUS$2.2 million[1][2]
Box officeUS$20.3 million[3]

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (Korean곤지암; Hanja昆池岩; RRGonjiam) is a 2018 South Korean found footage horror film directed by Jung Bum-shik. Based on a real-life psychiatric hospital of the same name, it stars Wi Ha-joon, Park Ji-hyun, Oh Ah-yeon, Moon Ye-won, Park Sung-hoon, Yoo Je-yoon and Lee Seung-wook in the lead roles. The narrative centers around a horror web series crew that travels to an abandoned asylum for a live broadcast in order to garner views and publicity.

The film opened theatrically in South Korea on 28 March 2018 and in the United States on 13 April 2018.[4][5] A commercial success, it also became the third most-watched horror film in South Korea after A Tale of Two Sisters and Phone.[6] Later, it was screened at the 20th Udine Far East Film Festival.[7]

Plot[edit]

Two boys are recording their exploration of the abandoned Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, where rumor states that the ping pong-loving director of the hospital killed all of the patients and went missing. The two head to Room 402, the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), which no one has been able to open before. They try to open the door but suddenly hear a ping pong ball. Their broadcast abruptly ends but not before catching a glimpse of a ghostly face. After seeing news of the teenagers' disappearance, Ha-Joon, owner of YouTube channel "Horror Times", decides to explore the building.

Ha-Joon gets together a group of six people (three girls: Ah-Yeon, Charlotte, and Ji-Hyun; and three boys: Sung-Hoon, Seung-Wook, and Je-Yoon) for a live broadcast. Ha-Joon stays at their base camp off the road to control the broadcast while the rest of the group will go inside. They tie underwear to a tree as a marker. Inside, Charlotte pours holy water in a small dish to record its reactions. In the director's office, they find a group photo with all the patients and staff, and Ji-Hyun and Charlotte find a doll in the lab, which they later discover has moved on its own. They see that it is the same doll held by one of the patients in the group photo.

Je-Yoon and Ah-Yeon try to open the door to Room 402, while the other four explore the "Group Treatment Room," where there are many strange coffins with holes in them. When Ji-Hyun puts her hand in a hole, her hand is pulled and wounded. Disturbed, Ji-Hyun and Charlotte decide to leave. Ha-Joon reviews footage of all six participants standing together and becomes disturbed as well, unsure who filmed it if all six were in the shot. Outside, Charlotte and Ji-Hyun encounter the underwear marker more than once, revealing that they are somehow going in circles. Ji-Hyun goes into a trance and her eyes open completely black. Frightened, Charlotte flees toward the base camp but finds herself back at the asylum in Room 402. Ji-Hyun is in a corner with the doll. A naked man appears and Charlotte is attacked and pulled into the darkness.

Seung-Wook and Sung-Hoon see a wheelchair moving by itself in the basement. Everything in the room begins to float, and both boys are knocked out by flying objects. Seung-Wook awakes and is dragged away by an invisible force. Sung-Hoon wakes and runs to Je-Yoon and Ah-Yeon, who are still trying to open the door to 402. Sung-Hoon Informs them that the show was meant to be scripted, but real paranormal forces have attacked them and they need to rescue Seung-Wook. Suddenly, a ping-pong ball bounces toward them and Charlotte's screaming is heard from inside 402. The infra-red cameras start to flash, detecting a presence. 402 opens and the screen goes dark.

Sung-Hoon, Je-Yoon, and Ah-Yeon find themselves in a dark room with no exit, standing in knee-deep water. Numerous ghosts appear and they are possessed one after the other and swallowed by the darkness. Ha-Joon, seeing his view count nearly reaching 1 million views, goes to investigate and gets strangled to death. The last one remaining, Seung-Wook, finds himself strapped to a wheelchair and is the final one to be pulled into room 402.

The epilogue shows that, despite everyone's continued broadcast, the livestream had actually cut off after Sung-Hoon admitted the stream was supposed to be scripted. The viewers, none the wiser, mock the failed stream. Additionally, the view count had not gotten anywhere near 1 million (despite what Ha-Joon saw on his monitor), and had only peaked to 503 views. In the final scene, the dish of holy water starts to boil.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film takes place in the former Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, purportedly one of Korea's most haunted locations. In 2012, CNN Travel selected it as one of "7 freakiest places on the planet."[8][9]

Most of the scenes in the film were filmed in the National Maritime High School in Busan, with the production team adhering closely to the floor plan of the actual hospital to recreate exactly the same exterior and hallways.[10]

Controversy[edit]

Before the release of the film, the owner of the asylum filed a lawsuit against the film being shown in theaters, claiming that the film will have negative effects on the sale of the building. However, a Seoul court in late March 2018 ruled in favor of the film being shown.[11] On 28 May 2018 Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital was demolished.[12]

Release[edit]

The film released in South Korea on 28 March 2018.

In April 2018, just days after the film was released, actor Lee Seung-wook who made his debut with the film announced his departure from the entertainment industry. The actor, who was reportedly absent from promotional activities for the film, cited personal reasons for the decision.[13]

Reception[edit]

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum came in first at the domestic box office on March 28, 2018, alongside the openings of Hollywood film Ready Player One and local film Seven Years of Night, collecting US$1.2 million from 198,369 admissions.[14] Remaining at the top spot for the next four days, the film earned US$10.2 million from 1.37 million admissions in its opening weekend and accounted for 40% of the total weekend box office receipts,[15] the biggest March opening ever achieved by a Korean film.[16]

After three weekends, Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum has attracted near to 2.6 million viewers and accumulated US$20.3 million in box office takings, the second biggest gross for a Korean horror film, behind 2003's A Tale of Two Sisters.[17][18]

Aedan Juvet of Bleeding Cool claimed the film "mastered" found footage horror, naming it amongst some of the best of its genre.[19] The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 91% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10.[20]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards Category Recipient Result Ref.
55th Grand Bell Awards Best New Actor Wi Ha-joon Nominated [21][22]
Best Editing Kim Hyung-joo, Yang Dong-yeop Won
Best Planning Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum Nominated
39th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actor Wi Ha-joon Nominated [23]
Best New Actress Park Ji-hyun Nominated
Best Editing Kim Hyung-joo, Yang Dong-yeop Won
Technical Award (Sound) Park Yong-gi, Park Joo-gang Nominated
5th Korean Film Producers Association Awards Best Sound Won [24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Haunted asylum beats 'Ready Player One' in Korea". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  2. ^ "Showbox sells 'Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum' to 47 countries". Screen.
  3. ^ "GONJIAM: Haunted Asylum (2018)". Korean Film Biz Zone.
  4. ^ "Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum". Box Office Mojo.
  5. ^ "Well Go USA Takes South Korean Horror Film 'Gonjiam' for North America". The Hollywood Reporter. 14 March 2018.
  6. ^ "'Gonjiam' becomes 3rd most-watched horror movie in S. Korea". Yonhap News Agency. 8 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum". Far East Film Festival.
  8. ^ "Korean horror film 'Gonjiam' sold to 47 countries". Yonhap News Agency.
  9. ^ "7 of the freakiest places on the planet". CNN Travel.
  10. ^ "'Blair Witch' meets Korean insane asylum". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  11. ^ "[Herald Review] Navigating the dark corners of a haunted asylum". The Korea Herald. 21 March 2018.
  12. ^ "The Haunted Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital: Gone But Not Forgotten". Curious Archive. 2022-03-10. Retrieved 2022-03-11.
  13. ^ "Korean Actor Lee Seung Wook Quits Acting, Cites Personal Reason". Koreaportal.com. 6 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Horror Flick 'Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum' Tops Box Office on First Day". HanCinema.
  15. ^ Kil, Sonia (3 April 2018). "Korea Box Office: 'Haunted Asylum' Beats 'Player'". Variety.
  16. ^ "Top-ranked 'Gonjiam' may renew Korean horror film record". koreatimes. 2 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Teens Return as Powerful Box-Office Force". Chosun.
  18. ^ Kil, Sonia (9 April 2018). "Korea Box Office: 'Player' and 'Gonjiam' Share Weekend Honors". Variety.
  19. ^ Juvet, Aedan (2020-10-04). "How Gonjiam Asylum Mastered Found-Footage Horror". Bleeding Cool News And Rumors. Retrieved 2022-02-14.
  20. ^ "Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  21. ^ 제55회 대종상, 각 부문 후보 공개…'공작' 12개 최다부문 노미네이트. Seoul Sports (in Korean). 21 September 2018. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  22. ^ '버닝', 대종상 작품상 영예...1주기 故김주혁, 특별상 수상 [종합]. Osen (in Korean). 22 October 2018.
  23. ^ 청룡영화상 후보 발표, ‘1987’ 최다·‘공작’도 9개부문 후보. Newsen (in Korean). November 1, 2018.
  24. ^ 주지훈·한지민, 한국영화제작가협회상 남녀주연상 영광. Newsen (in Korean). 11 December 2018.

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