The 8th Night is Netflix’s newest Korean horror entry. If Army of the Dead was bubble gum horror, then The 8th Night is a filling, well thought, beautifully and brutally shot, main course. The film builds firmly on character, with award worthy performances from the cast. The world building and set design are both vibrant and Earthy. This isn’t a fantastical movie – you won’t be wowed by CGI, special effects, a billion dollar budget, or lens flare – this is a gritty back to basics story telling event that will suck you in from the first.

Photo courtesy of Netflix (The 8th Night)

The Good, The Bad, The not-so Ugly

There is a lot of good in this film. The plot is interesting, and the vision of pulling the narrative together creates a unique voice. There are parts of the movie that might remind you of X or Y, but the overall flow is strictly singular. Because of this voice and style of craft, the movie is both immersive and worth subsequent viewings. If I had to tie a Hollywood pitch to this, I would say it’s Shutter Island meets The Last Boy Scout. The movie is part buddy film/fish out of water and part exorcism. It’s the juxtaposition between crime drama and buddy film that breathes life into what could have been a very straight path horror film.

One thing to be clear on, The 8th Night is not Train to Busan action-wise, but it’s a damn good rival story-wise.

Jim on The 8th Night

There are some horror fans that want action, blood, guts, sharks flying through the air – to be honest, I am in that camp, too. If you are squarely in that camp, then maybe this is not the film for you. The movie has action sequences. However, the movie shines from character exploration done in a world ever so slightly askew from our own. If you are in the horror camp of ‘blood, guts, and ass’ (I think that’s Scary Movie quote) and you want to expand your palate, then The 8th Night might be your ticket into something new. You should give it a whirl and if aren’t convinced by the end of the film, well I hear Hollywood has you covered with the 30th remake of The night of the living zombie jaws – orcist.

Photo courtesy of Netflix (The 8th Night)

A Note on Exposition – we all need it yet so many fail at it

Exposition is a necessary tool for movies. You get 90-120 minutes to tell a complete arc and sometimes that means filling in the shading details external to the main story. Exposition, on a good day, comes out ‘ok’ (think the way Star Wars does it with Obi Won telling Luke about his dad). Most movies force exposition to the point of being cringe worthy (think Suicide Squad….any part of the film). However, in that magical moment when a movie does exposition creatively, it can raise an OK film to stellar (think how we’re introduced to the Deathly Hallows or how the Big Short did any of its exposition). The 8th Night falls squarely in the latter camp. The exposition draws you in – it made me stop everything else that I was doing (damn multitasker here!) and focus on the movie.

If you’re from the MutantFam, then you’ve just come off viewing the Korean horror crotch-kick to your feels that is Train to Busan. One thing to be clear on, The 8th Night is not Train to Busan action-wise, but it’s a damn good rival story-wise.

a woman staring outwards - from the 8th night
The 8th Night image courtesy of Netflix

A life-or-death battle spanning eight days to prevent the breaking of the seal that restrains “That Which Must Not Awaken.” Once awakened, it can cross the stepping stones to wreak havoc on this world.

Logline from The 8th Night

The 8th Night – Verdict

The 8th Night is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen this year. If it weren’t for Train to Bustan, I would label it ‘the best horror movie’ I’ve seen this year. I put my money where my mouth is and, to be blunt, this movie made me re-up my Netflix subscription. If you look at Netflix like a date night, then the monthly fee for a new release horror is well worth the price of admission.

I think Netflix expanding their content from foreign markets is a good thing. I can take only so many Michael Bay explosions in my horror. Ed Warren can tease that Chekhov’s gun so many times without blowing someone’s head off. If movies like Train to Busan and The 8th Night show us anything, it’s there is a whole wonderful world of diverse horror waiting for us. It’s okay to go back to the re-re-remake of Pet Semetary. There’s a place for everything in the horror-verse. As The 8th Night shows, there’s even a place for solid horror entertainment that has feels, smarts, and character.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Jim Phoenix

El Jefe

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