Svaha: The Sixth Finger – South Korea, 2019

Svaha: The Sixth Finger is a 2019 South Korean mystery thriller feature film with horror elements written and directed by Jang Jae-hyun (The Priests: Exorcism; screenwriter of House of the Disappeared). The movie stars Lee Jung-jae, Park Jung-min, Lee Jae-in and Jung Jin-young.

Plot:

Pastor Park (Lee Jung-jae), head of the ‘Far East Religious Research Centre’, an organisation that uses a veneer of religious respectability to cynically make money hunting down the many cults that have proliferated across South Korea.

Under attack for his persecution of innocent church groups and in need of cash, Park stumbles upon the emergence of a new and secretive Buddhist sect, ‘Deer Mount’. When it’s discovered that cult adherent Na-han (Park Jung-min) is committing terrible murders for some unknown purpose, Pastor Park and his team race to uncover the meaning of Deer Mount’s sinister scriptures.

This task becomes even more pressing when the fanatical Na-han turns his attention to a young woman with her own secret, a twin sister who has been locked away since birth…

Reviews:

Svaha is thematically provocative and visually inspired, and Jang wants to stir up cogitation on spirituality and religion as much as he wants to disturb us. It’s easy to admire his work, and feel spellbound by his rigorously conceived imagery. Yet the plot is cluttered with superfluous detail, muddying its intent.” John Serba, Decider

“There were no unnecessary jump scares, but had genuinely creepy scenes. The film was great up until around the 70% mark, where the story just falls apart from then onward. However, it was good from the beginning to that point, and if you enjoy horror movies, I’d recommend watching. This was one of the most freakiest movies I’ve seen recently.” Eontalk

“It’s not quite on the same level as The Wailing, for me, but still well worth your time. […] The one big drawback is the fact that it starts out very slow and with many characters. This makes it a bit of a difficult movie to watch at first, but the final act more than makes up for it.” Karin Adelgaard, Heaven of Horror

“The characters are not fleshed out properly, the writing is weak and the screenplay is incoherent. The only thing that stands out is its sharp direction that manages to intrigue and creates tense moments but they are seldom.” Nafees Ahmed, High on Films

“Exuding darker religious mysticism, Svaha adopted jarring traits of horror movies, such as the sounds of animal howling and the use of snakes or insects […] Half crime thriller and half horror flick, the film also pushes the audience to dwell on how the concept of god and common people’s religious faith are exploited by lunatic religious leaders.” The Korean Times

“Various plot threads are laid out in loose fashion without much drama or mystery or suspense to make them compelling. And the characters nearly all walk around as though in a daze. I’m fine with deliberately-paced tales that are not in a rush to make their points, but I’m afraid I found little here to recommend, beyond its ambition.” Peter Martin, Screen Anarchy

” …a competent genre piece distinguishing itself well with its own distinctive local elements. Although it did not scare me that much, it still amused and entertained me nonetheless, and I think it is one of better South Korean horror films during recent years.” Seongyong’s Private Place

“This is a film that does not hold back on the creepy factor, with some imagery that I think will be difficult to shake from my head anytime soon, especially some of the scenes involving hanging early in the film.” Brian MacNamara, TL;DR Reviews

“Interesting characters disappear without explanation and others seem to be important end up having no real effect on events. The sudden shifts back and forth between horror and crime thriller may also put some people off. But I thought they helped keep things interesting, especially given the film’s length. Even if it’s never overly scary there are some genuinely eerie images in the film. It’s an enjoyably different mix.” Jim Morazzini, Voices from the Balcony

Cast and characters:

  • Ji-tae Yu … (as Ji-tae Yoo)
  • Jung-jae Lee … Pastor Park
  • Min Tanaka … Nechoongtenpa
  • Jin-young Jung … Chief Hwang
  • Seung-chul Baek … Geum-Hwa’s grandfather
  • Jung-min Park … Jeong Na-han
  • Sang-woo Lee … Head Monk
  • Jung-min Hwang … Deaconess Sim
  • Kyung-ho Yoon … Cattle shed owner
  • Seon-kyu Jin … Monk Hae-an
  • Lee Jae-in … Geum-hwa
  • Geun-Young Kim … Agape nun
  • Hong-pa Kim … Prison governor (as Kim Hong-Fa)
  • Ji-hwan Park … Jang-Suk
  • Suk Mun … Myung-Hee

Technical details:

122 minutes

Release:

Released in South Korea on 20 February 2019 and now streaming on Netflix.

Related:

The Priests aka The Priests: Exorcism – South Korea, 2015

House of the Disappeared – South Korea, 2017

Religious horror

South Korean horror

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