⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Intensity: 🩸🩸 A fantastic ghost story anthology about a very haunted apartment building in South Korea. Expertly interwoven tales that turn the spookiness up to 11!
Written/directed by Jo Ba-Reun
The Koreans, as a people, are truly exceptional at many things. Two of those things that sit near the top of the list are ghost stories and restaurants serving chicken & beer. Seeing as how we’re The Scariest Things and not The Food Network, let’s dive into a prime example of their talent for gettin’ ghosty.
Ghost Mansion (2021) was released in the summer of 2021. Writer/director Jo Ba-Reun has a few other projects under his belt, but this is his debut horror feature and what a debut!
The film is a collection of short stories — all written and directed by Jo Ba-Reun — that revolve around a decrepit apartment building on the outskirts of Seoul. The unifying thread involves a budding horror manga artist, Ji-woo [Sung Jun; Korean TV’s Island (2023)], searching for something to make his sophomore publication much more successful than his first. To that end, he visits the caretaker of the Gwanglim Mansion apartment building [Kim Hong-pa; The Juror (2019)] to gather stories about the infamous building. The result is a bundle of five separate-yet-interwoven stories each with its own set of characters and creepy circumstances.
Ghost Mansion is a true anthology of ghost stories. There are no explosions, no brutal dismemberment, not even a single gunshot wound. Things get a little goopy now and then, but it’s all about pushing the viewer deeper into the territory of dread, disquiet, and creepitude. Consequently — and really to its credit — this is not a special effects heavy film. There are some, of course, and they’re well done for the most part. The practical effects come across better than the CGI, but it’s really the storytelling that takes center stage more than the SFX.
Acting-wise, this is an exceedingly solid movie. Sung Jun and Kim Hong-pa easily carry the narrative while all the supporting characters in each of the different segments bring their own flavor to the film. There aren’t any weak links in this spooky chain.
If you’re at all a fan of the traditional style of ghost stories, the sort you’d tell in the dark while sitting around a campfire, this is your kind of movie. Beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, and surprisingly creepy.
Ghost Mansion is currently streaming on Tubi, though weirdly under the name The Night Shift. Not sure why they changed they name, but follow that link and it’s the right movie. Enjoy!