05th Jul2019

‘Svaha: The Sixth Finger’ Review (Netflix)

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Jung-jae Lee, Ji-tae Yu, Min Tanaka, Jin-young Jung, Sang-woo Lee, Lee Jae-in, Jung-min Park, Seung-chul Baek, Seon-kyu Jin, Jung-min Hwang, Hong-pa Kim, Suk Mun, Ji-hwan Park, Ji Seung-Hyun | Written and Directed by Jang Jae-hyun

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Svaha: The Sixth Finger, brought to Netflix as part of their commitment to Korean programming, is directed by Jang Jae-hyun and stars Jung-jae Lee as Pastor Park. A spiritual occultist who investigates documented religious sectors to decipher their intentions for either good or for evil. Park is hired, along with his understudy, played by Ji-tae yu, to look into the cult group Deer Mount. Unbeknownst to the two, Chief Hwang (Jin-young Jung) begins to investigate a murder that has links to the group. Both sides collide in unearthing a haunting conspiracy and are fully thrown into a horrifying investigation that is filled with secrets.

Jang Jae-hyun’s film is cocktail of Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate and Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder without the eerie atmosphere of the former and the intensity of the latter. A chilling thriller that just about survives dancing on a knife edge on the gothic atmosphere alone without supplying genuine scares or outright horror. The film feeds off of the audiences willing participation to be engulfed by atmosphere and tension. If you’re here for simplistic thrills and spills Svaha: The Sixth Finger will slowly but surely bore, you to death. This is more so a character study than anything including gore and terror.

The structure is split into four stories that are interconnected and play third party to one another until the films colliding climax. Pastor Park and Chief Hwang have a relatively similar storyline that fights at two different angles regarding the unfolding events, with a slightly more dramatic emphasis on the former rather than the latter. The other two stories combine more of the films overly investigative moments and tone. Jung-min Park’s Jeong Na-han provides the more stoic and enigmatic terror on offer. A silent but deadly type that provokes a great deal of daunting screen presence. However, the deeply unsettling and terrifying moments belong to the arc of Geum-hwa, played by Lee Jae-in. The word creepy is an understatement within the arc of her character and it is here where the film really comes into its own with a stunning gothic score by composer Kim Tae-seong, with equally as immersive and eerie cinematography by Kim Tae-soo.

The said horror, however, is slightly infrequent and the running time of one hundred and twenty minutes is no doubt going to be a slight struggle for the casual viewer. Alongside said running time, the film holds most of it’s secrets quite close to its chest, which means the audience has to be in the film for the long run, courtesy of what is – at times – a slightly over-convoluted and dense plot. It’ll no doubt be a slog for many but if you can restrain your patience you’ll be left with an abstract and vivid horror that really unsettles when it wants to provoke such moments of dread.

Svaha: The Sixth Finger is available now on Netflix.

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