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The 8th Night Film Review

★ Stars

Directed by: #KimTaeHyung

Written by: #KimTaeHyung

Two men stand in the middle of the woods back to back, one with his hands clasped in prayer and the other raising an axe. A large, red, glowing eye engulfs the background of the forest behind them.

“With prayer beads in one hand and an axe in the other, a monk hunts down a millennia-old spirit that's possessing humans and unleashing hell on Earth.”

The 8th Night, now streaming on Netflix, presents the story of a demonic eye looking to complete its ‘set’ to restore its true power. It possesses a series of people while enacting an ancient prophecy, with only two monks standing in the way of its journey.

This is an immensely strange comparison I’m about to make but it actually fits well: if you’ve seen the Monsters at Work episode ‘The Cover Up’ with the inspector and his small briefcase of eyeballs – that’s exactly what The 8th Night feels like; just much less child friendly of course. And yes, unfortunately I do mean this in a way that puts Monsters at Work at a higher level of recommendation than this film.

The 8th Night takes a long time to get going and is overloaded with exposition sections; so much so that the main intent or meaning of the story and the history behind it starts to become lost rather quickly. The film carries a steady pace even as the tension finally begins to build which heavily damages a viewer’s response to what should be a horror/thriller experience. I do think the story of The 8th Night could have been something interesting if it was executed in a more delicate and balanced way but, since the core of this story lost its integrity somewhere throughout the film, the only thing I’m really able to explain to readers of this review is that the film is about a squishy, blood-red eyeball that possesses people. That isn’t necessarily intriguing at all, is it?

One huge problem I have with the demonic eye being the focus within the film is that it completely takes your attention away from becoming immersed in the story. The CGI used is amazing, incredibly well done from a visual perspective, but you can’t detach yourself from the fact that it is just CGI. It takes the element of fright away almost instantly when you can’t help but view the evil in the plot as the artificial addition that it is in production.

I always look forward to hearing the music used in different horror and thriller films as the tracks can create a stomach-twisting sense of anticipation even if the plot starts to feel muddled somewhere, somehow. Much to my dismay, The 8th Night gifts viewers with an overdramatic soundtrack that further diminishes any sense of suspense. A fellow critic mentioned that it sounds like an overpowering ‘Call of Duty’ soundtrack and they are exactly right – it’s understandable why one would think music of this nature could benefit a film within this genre but, in reality, it simply can’t.

The cinematography of The 8th Night is probably the most appealing aspect overall. As a lover of Korean cinema, especially this genre, it is easy to pinpoint some popular uses of camera in specific scenes that introduce the feeling of apprehension. There are definitely some moments like this within the film that grips your attention due to the fact that it’s a widely recognisable frame. This familiarity brings an odd feeling of comfort, which might sound totally out of place considering viewers aren’t meant to feel comfort throughout this film. However, when you aren’t gripped by the plot and find yourself staring at the screen somewhat uninterested, it’s nice to be pulled back into the film by something identifiable.

If you’re looking for a real fright, I don’t think The 8th Night is the film for you. I’d suggest going back to the roots of Korean and Japanese horror for that instead of these newer releases. Although there is one scene in particular that did give me chills… let’s just say that if someone smiled at me the way she did I’d be booking a trip to Mars and you’d never hear from me again - prepare yourself for that, you’ll know it when you see it.



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