Directed by Sim Deok-Geun and written by Jong-ho Lee, in a community centre where a mass murder took place years earlier and it involves a paranormal investigator who discovers a door to another world. Starring: Kim Kang-woo, Kim Sohye, Lee Jung Hyoung and Hong Jin-gi.
Creating a supernatural horror that feels original in this day and age with a vast history to compete with, is no easy task which makes it all the more satisfying that Guimoon: The Lightless Door is up to that challenge. Its base of murder and ghosts may be familiar but it forges its own path, one that’s entertaining, dark and mysterious. There’s a great pacing to it, to hold your attention throughout and it feels very self-aware, not getting lost in trying to be overly violent, cold or withholding. It gives you plenty of clues as it moves forward, playing with twists and turns to its tale but never completely giving itself away until its final moments.
It has a classic haunted house feel, the anticipation that opening any door, turning any corner, shining a light, could all hold dangerous consequences. Easily creating an atmosphere of fear and dread, pulling you in and getting a real grip as things intensify. It embraces the supernatural fully but doesn’t lean on it too much, to still focus its story on the characters, as well as the creeping, ghastly memories its haunted building holds. It has a superb use of its dark palette, especially with the help of its lighting work, existing in that darkness but never obscuring the visual.
As with many films of this nature, you don’t get to learn a great deal about the characters’ backgrounds but it’s always a sign of great performances when that has no impact on your enjoyment of the film. That’s exactly the case here, it’s a well casted ensemble who have different personalities to bring to the table but all of them get the level of emotion, reactiveness and intensity just right. Kim Kang-woo takes the lead, creating an interesting anchor for the different threads to this story. While we only get a little of his history, Kim Kang-woo still does a great job of bringing alive the layers to his character, especially his internal conflict.
Guimoon: The Lightless Door is a must watch for any horror fans, bringing new life to haunting stories. It’s entertaining, uses a good mix of jump scares and violence, never trying for too many of either. There’s a great cast at work, doing a terrific job of heightening the fear and danger, while keeping you guessing. It’s not often you get a supernatural horror which holds your attention so well, feels original and has such a dense atmosphere, so it’s fantastic to see it here.