The 8th Night (2021)
Updated: Jun 1, 2023
Has anyone else felt like the last few years have been worse than usual? As if someone unearthed an ancient curse and it descended upon us. The premise of this movie centers around a similar idea, that an ancient relic could bring hell to earth. The 8th Night came out in 2021 on Netflix, a South Korean movie directed by Kim Tae-hyoung. The main character, Park Jin-soo played by Lee Sung-min, is a former monk now turned construction worker who’s destiny it is to stop the two eyes from uniting and bringing hell to earth. The whole plot hinges on an ancient legend about a monster who wanted to create suffering amongst humans and create a bridge between hell and earth. One red eye and one black eye, black representing anxiety and red representing agony.
Buddha stopped this monster by taking both eyes from the monster but the red eye managed to get away and use seven stepping stones, or humans, to hide and get away. The last stepping stone or person is the Virgin Shaman and the Buddha stopped it before it reached this last stepping stone and placed both eyes in caskets in the Far East and one in the Far West. A professor finds the red eye that had been placed in the desserts of the Far West and thinks that he has proven that the legend is true. The public however turns on him when the casket is declared to be a forgery. Full of anguish from having his career and life ruined, this professor waits fourteen years for the lunar eclipse that turns the moon red to pour vials of blood he has collected onto the red eye and awaken it to seek out the black eye. The guardian of the black eye is alerted to its awakening and he sends our other main character, Chung-seok, played by Nam De-reum, to seek out the banished monk, Park Jin-soo, so that he can stop the two eyes from joining together.
This movie is a tad on the long side and at times the story gets complicated to follow. There are multiple story lines and reveals along the way that all come together in the end. I particularly enjoyed the story between Chung-seok and Park Jin-soo and their past coming together to their final moments where they are able to set aside their feelings in order to save the world from the evil that would be unleashed.
I have to say the design and costume for the characters infected by the eye, or carrying the eye, is haunting and terrifying. From cracking bones to eyeballs appearing in split cheeks every time one of the characters portrayed the possessed version of themselves I literally jumped. There’s a creepy, dead eyed smile that accompanies this possession and all of the actors are amazing at portraying this. The only thing I didn’t like is how slow the infected would walk despite there only being eight days to complete the task at hand. There is an air of confidence with those affected by the eye but a simple ax is capable enough to take out the threat in the end. I wanted the final battle scenes to be a tad more intense than they ended up being but the emotional draw during those scenes somewhat made up for the lack of physical action.
One of the biggest emotional moments is learning that Chung-seok is the son of the woman who killed Park Jin-soo’s family while drunk driving. It’s an emotional scene when Park Jin-soo can overcome his hatred towards Chung-seok and see him as a son after their journey together throughout the movie. We are also faked out by believing that Ae-ran, played by Kim Yoo-jung, is the Virgin Shaman that Park Jin-soo must kill but is actually a ghost. A girl who had been the adopted daughter of the disgraced professor who commit suicide as a sacrifice in bringing the eyes together. This particular storyline could’ve been explored more and felt somewhat of an afterthought. Though finding out that it wasn’t actually Ae-ran who brought the black eye to the red eye but instead a tricked Chung-seok.
Another thing I wanted more of is the actual murders and the eye passing from person to person rather than the slow build of the story between the other characters. We mostly just saw the rapidly decomposed bodies with the holes in their skulls for a moment or two. In contrast to that complaint I did like the connection of the stepping stones being people that had attempted suicide in the past and then sought comfort in the meditation group organized by the professor.
All in all I enjoyed this movie. I found it scary at the times it meant to be frightening and emotional when it intended to convey a deeper message. I did think it could’ve been thirty minutes shorter and have less build up to get to the point. I also think as mentioned before that the fight scenes between the infected and other people could’ve been more dramatic and intense, more high stakes. The end had been fairly predictable once all of the pieces settled into place but still a decent one time watch.
Recommended score: 5/10