WARNING! If you found ‘The Conjuring’ (2013) is scary as hell, then try to avoid The Medium (Thai: ร่างทรง Rang Song and Korean: 랑종 Rangjong) because f*ck I don’t think you would be able to withhold the urge to run from your seat.
I remember sitting in front of a laptop in broad daylight. All the lights are on and I start to watch Na Hong-jin’s ‘The Wailing’ (2016). A slow-burning character study in a 156-minutes runtime, I found myself engaged in its narrative with its horror counterparts as a cherry on the cake. But all changes in its exorcism scene. My senses are all tingling. Something crawls under my skin. It feels like I was watching with someone. Or it could be the devil itself. As the scene ends, I disrespect the filmmaker by pausing the film, can’t help to confirm my surroundings and I was alone. But it feels like someone is beside me.
Since then, ‘The Wailing’ (2016) has become my favorite horror of all time. It’s a truly rare experience where the fear of and unsettling supernatural events could fully possess me. This time, Na Hong-jin brought his insane knowledge and curiosity of shamanism across another country that is widely known for its supernatural occurrences: Thailand. Teaming with Thai horror master Banjong Pisanthanakun (Shutter, Pee Mak), there’s no doubt that the hype was there. And it doesn’t disappoint where it could petrify you in our seats.
These two b*stards really know how to scare your ass and try to elevate it more through a found-footage film. We all know it’s a set-up, but asking us to sit, shut up and watch an unsettling documentary with a shaman interviewee had me easily absorbed into their world. Few moments later, the story shifted into the shaman’s nephew, Mink (Narilya Gulmongkolpech). Displaying an odd sadistic behaviour (pushing children, slapping concerned strangers) through video and camera recordings, it’s already disturbing enough that it became an unfortunate situation since this is just the first act.
Each minute passes and I realize that I’m stuck in a petrifying journey. No, not because the devil appears out of nowhere or a plate flies without anyone throwing it. What makes it so unbearable is how Mink’s possessions are unimaginable for a person to experience. The cameraman wonderfully captures every Mink’s horrendous, disturbing activity with what only could be described as a graphic, shocking visuals to make yourself cringe. You could question the ethicality of the camera operator but I’m honestly too absorbed with the visuals and knew how big the probability for this event could happen in reality, making it a true horror.
Perhaps the reason why this was really shocking was that the documentary showed us interviews of the people who care so much about them. And so does our psychological toll turned into a heightened stress, putting our position into them. And to love seems to be a curse in The Medium, since it’s a really stressful and painful journey for these supporting characters trying to find ways to cure Ming.
In the end, The Medium turns into an explosive third-act just like how Marvel would go full CGI. But thanks to its development before, it never really felt forced enough and could still terrify the shit out of you on what I could say as a traumatizing, terrifying journey of exorcism. No kidding. I kept myself at the edge of the seat, changing position to position while sweats running into freezing palm. Not knowing what the hell will happen next, I try to keep my senses shut but I just can’t escape from it. It is just a stressful feeling that went full throttle until when the credits roll, where I need to sit and reflect on what I would later deemed as the scariest sh*t I’ve experienced in cinema.
It might not go deep like ‘The Wailing’ on its Christianity, shamanism, and many more despite the connection made in ‘The Medium’. You might not even really care about the subtext or background of the story. But understanding the surface is good enough already to torture your psychological and mental state, turning it into ‘The scariest horror film of 2021 (as of now).’ Heck, I would even call it ‘the scariest horror film I’ve ever seen in my life!’
‘The Medium’ is out in South Korean cinemas now!