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Exhuma (2024) @ BIFFF

A wealthy Korean American family enlists a team of Shamanic experts to uncover the reason
for their firstborn’s inexplicable and ongoing illness. They find out that the ill-tempered spirit
of an ancestor is plaguing them from within the grave so they decide to perform a series of
rituals to try and assuage it. The first steps entail locating the burial ground and excavating
the coffin. But of course not everything goes according to plan, certain details about the
ancestor’s history are revealed and it appears getting rid of its evil presence will be more
challenging than they’d hoped.
Writer/director Jang Jae-hyun displays great confidence crafting this ambitious horror thriller
that feels firmly grounded in reality despite the many elements of folklore and supernatural
spookiness. Its structure is a bit unconventional and the viewer definitely needs to piece the
puzzle together himself so it is a rather demanding watch especially considering the dense
narrative resulting in a 134’ runtime. The increasingly wild series of events that unfolds
results in some very intense sequences with unsettling imagery and a powerful sound design
but at the same time the well-rounded and colourful characters, consistent tone, gorgeous
stylization and excellent pacing make it pretty accessible overall. Exhuma is an impressive
production that effortlessly commands respect. The usually very vocal BIFFF-audience
remained (mostly) silent throughout the screening. I thought that was very telling.

Loïc Charlier

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