Guimoon: The Lightless Door review - A horror film that misses the point entirely

·2 min read
Guimoon: The Lightless Door. (Photo: Shaw Organisation)
Guimoon: The Lightless Door. (Photo: Shaw Organisation)

Length: 86 minutes
Director: Sim Deok Geun
Cast: Kim Kang Woo, Kim So Hye, Lee Jung Hyung, Hong Jin Gi, Jun Jae Ha

1.5 out of 5 stars

In theatres 23 September 2021 (Singapore)

It’s hard to imagine a world without Asian horror. Recently, Thai-South Korean supernatural horror The Medium grossed over US$7 million, ranking it the sixth highest grossing movie in South Korea of 2021.

Unfortunately, there will be hits, and there will be misses.

Guimoon: The Lightless Door shows great promise in its opening scene, but there's no pay-off after that. A female shaman conducts an exorcism ceremony in broad daylight to an enraptured audience, swaying to the piping music as she enters a trance.

But the ceremony goes awry as she wrestles with the murderous spirit, the remnants of a vengeful janitor which haunts a training centre, and commits suicide in front of a horrified crowd.

As director Sim Deok Geun’s cinematic debut, perhaps cutting him some slack would be in order. Guimoon is definitely an ocular feast, displaying all the trademarks of a traditional Asian horror film, with its spectral and dissonant orchestral music and thickly saturated filter over every eerie backdrop.

It is there where all semblances to a good Asian horror flick end.

The shaman’s son, Do Jin (Kim Kang Woo), grows up to become a director of a psychic research institute and goes on a quest to avenge his mother in the training centre where she died while carrying out her exorcism.

According to legend, the now abandoned training centre also contains a portal to the spiritual beyond; a guimoon that opens every once so often which ghosts use to traverse between the planes. It is also connected to the vengeful janitor’s spirit who murdered occupants in the training centre before killing himself.

Concurrently, three university students have also decided to visit the abandoned training centre as part of a contest to film a video to win some prize money to fund their education.

The abandoned building is the perfect setting to create a haunting atmosphere, accompanied by Kim Kang Woo’s impactful performance, having to act by himself for most of the movie.

The same cannot be said for the three students, who trip over themselves to endanger their wellbeing at every step of the way, throwing caution to the wind despite the ominous danger creeping up on them in the most contrived manner possible.

Guimoon starts out with great promise but falls flat on its face halfway, unable to decide whether it wants to follow in the footsteps of the Blair Witch project style of filming, nor able to deliver a convincing morality or message at the end, leaving viewers confused as to the meaning of the movie. 

Better luck next time, director Sim.

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