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Exhuma: The First Film to Surpass 10 Million Viewers in 2024
  • By Yoon Hye-won, cub-reporter
  • 승인 2024.03.31 14:57
  • 호수 330
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▲ A Scene from the Movie ‘Exhuma’ (Source: Showbox)

The Korean occult mystery film ‘Exhuma’ has set a new record by breaking through 10 million viewers. According to the Korean Film Council’s integrated system, it started top spot at the Box Office since its release on the 22nd of last month and has maintained that position. ‘Exhuma’ surpassed 1 million viewers in just three days after its release, and on the 8th day, it had exceeded 4 million cumulative viewers, surpassing its break- even point of 3.3 million. The achievement of reaching 10 million viewers for ‘Exhuma’ was accomplished at a rapid pace, only about a month after its release. The film distributor, Showbox, had already anticipated this milestone. Furthermore, ‘Exhuma’ has been exported to 133 countries, experiencing a box office hit in various Asian countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam, and Taiwan, where it recorded the highest opening score in the history of Korean cinema.

Director Jang Jae- hyun, who produced ‘Exhuma,’ has solidified his position as a great master in the Korean occult film industry following his previous works, ‘SVAHA: THE SIXTH FINGER’ (2019), and, ‘The Priests’ (2015). His latest work, ‘Exhuma’ focuses on eccentric incidents involving a geomancer, undertaker, and shaman, who delve into mysterious graves, actor Choi Min- sik, Yoo Hae- jin, Lee Do- hyun, and actress Kim Go- eun took on the lead roles. During the movie press conference held on January 17th, director Jang Jae- hyun told reporters, “When I was very young, I saw the process of relocating a grave while stepping on one and playing in the countryside. I remember seeing people excavate a grave that had been there for about a hundred years, and the smell and color of the soil from that time still linger in my memory.” He continued, “When they unearthed the very old wooden coffin and I saw people performing ancestral rites, I felt a complex sentiment of curiosity and fear emanating from the coffin. Therefore, I wanted to cinematograph those childhood memories into the film.”

The question from MC about the differences between ‘Exhuma’ and director Jang Jae- hyun’s previous works, ‘SVAHA: THE SIXTH FINGER,’ which treated the world to views of Christianity and Buddhism, and, ‘The Priests,’ which centered around exorcism, prompted the following response: “'Exhuma’ is not a film about religion. Rather, it deals with the relation between the land we live and people.” Furthermore, the director stated about the unique strengths of ‘Exhuma,’ “When we were making the film, the COVID- 19 pandemic broke out. Therefore, with the mindset that we needed to create a film that audiences would feel compelled to see in theaters, we made every effort to incorporate elements that are simple, intuitive, and immersive, maximizing the cinematic and experiential aspects that can be felt in theaters compared to other works.”

Following that, director Jang Jae- hyun made an appearance on the tvN entertainment program ‘You Quiz On The Block,’ where he further elaborated on the making of ‘Exhuma,’ sharing more detailed stories. He stated, “One day, while passing through Cheonan, I saw a sign for the Independence Memorial Hall and decided to stop by because I hadn’t been there since elementary school. As I looked around, I wailed by the realization that there are so many people we don’t know about, who were sacrificed in a shady spot for the sake of our people. I think that impression I received at that moment naturally seeped into the process of writing the scenario.” Additionally when asked about the reason behind continuing to explore the occult genre, he replied, “I’ve asked myself that question many times as well. ‘Why do I like this kind of subject?’ I’ve never seen a ghost myself, on the other hand, I sometimes wish there were souls. It is a bit regrettable that humans die, turn into dirt, and it is all over. We might be overlooking the value of things unseen, like souls. Therefore, I want to immerse myself in those things even more.”

‘Exhuma’ is receiving praise for emerging out of the genre of simple horror and incorporating Korean history into its storyline, which is seen as refreshing. Audiences are particularly impressed by the actor’s performances, describing them as captivating. The success of ‘Exhuma’ is contributing to the increased interest in the occult genre among audiences, demonstrating director Jang Jae- hyun’s capability and creativity again. The henceforth box office hit of ‘Exhuma,’ coupled with its international releases, is expected to have a positive impact on the advancement of the Korean film industry and provide viewers with even richer cinematic experiences.

By Yoon Hye-won, cub-reporter  flipp1005@naver.com

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