K-Movie: Digging Deep into Korean Occultism

by Michelle Li

Exhuma | 파묘 (2024)

Showbox | Exhuma

Hear me out, I’m not a horror genre person at all but when my friends wanted to watch Exhuma and aren’t even K-movie fans themselves, I got fomo and had to join them.

What really sold me was not the plot but the insanely talented list of actors! We have Kim Go-Eun, steadily rising Lee Do-Hyun and Choi Min-sik and Yoo Hae-jin, both very iconic veteran actors. If it wasn’t for them, I think the movie would have gone wary, at least for me. As someone who isn’t a huge believer in the supernatural, their acting skills had to be pretty believable, especially as Exhuma is heavily based on occultism with fantasy elements. 

Showbox | Exhuma

This film is set up through six chapters and each chapter begins with a clear title. This made this 2-hour film more easy to follow as a LOT is going on. The first half of the movie introduces us to a wealthy Korean American family. Basically, for the past generations, the eldest children have fallen ill, and that includes the family’s newborn son. Having had enough, the newborn son’s father, Ji-yong (Kim Jae-chul) enlists help from Korean shaman Hwa-rim (Kim Go-eun) and her protégé, Bong-gil (Lee Do-hyun). Soon, they both realise that the entire family is under a generational curse called “Grave’s Calling” - someone’s spirit is haunting them and seeking revenge!

Showbox | Exhuma

Hwa-rim and Bong-gil’s only choice is for them to relocate this spirit’s tomb but this can only be done with Feng Shui master, Sang-deok (Choi Min-sik) and Yeong-geun (Yoo Hae-jin), a mortician. The four venture out to the gravesite, and discover that the tomb is placed in a remote village, and in a cursed location. This relocation was really interesting to watch, and warning; may not be for the faint of heart - think exorcism 😅 Apparently, while filming this scene, there was an actual shaman on set to stir away any spirits that Kim Go-eun’s realistic chants may have brought forth. However, the tomb's relocation wasn’t the only challenge. Little did they know, once this exhumation is complete, they may have just released an even more powerful creature…?!


I would say this movie isn’t really the horror genre I expected. It’s not scary in the way you would imagine (jump scares and all) but more how occultism is portrayed. The director of Exhuma, Jang Jae-hyum, aimed to capture it so realistically to the extent of it being creepy, especially as he vouches to use as little CG as possible. Take a glimpse into Exhuma, with the trailer here and check out the screening times here.

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