Before I proceed with the review, I would just like to put out there that it took me three tries before I finished Korean horror movie “Svaha: The Sixth Finger” on Netflix. I fell asleep two times while I soldiered on for the remaining hour and a half to give my fair two cents on the movie.
Synopsis: Geum Hwa (Lee Jae In) was born with a demon for a twin sister whom her parents and grandparents have kept under lock and key in the family basement for decades, believing that she is the cause of all the family’s misfortunes. Pastor Park (Lee Jung Jae) makes a living investigating religious organizations and exposing scams they pull on their brethren. After discovering some red flags in a Buddhist sect, he uncovers a mind-blowing series of events linked to over eighty crimes in the past two decades.
I must admit that “Svaha: The Sixth Finger” was not completely without its merits. Its cinematography was close to perfection and the musical score rightly set the tone for the unraveling of the mystery of a religious leader who is secretly executing a holy war in order to achieve Dharma or eternal life.
In truth, the film was centered around a well thought out and intelligent script. The basis for the mystery was well researched and the use of parallels between Buddhism and Christianity really makes audiences recall the atrocities that righteous men commit to secure their own salvation. It also questions who is truly evil and who is pretending to be good, which is a dilemma that most people have to deal with.
The film touches on the Buddhist concept of Maitreya which is the equivalent of the Messiah in the Christian religion. The film also illustrates the parallels of King Herod’s order to kill all babies in Bethlehem to eliminate Jesus from his path to the movie antagonists’ false crusade to achieve complete enlightenment and immortality. The problem was that from the beginning, it seemed like Geum Hwa was as far removed from the story being told by Pastor Park as possible. While the twins were the primary marketing point of the trailer, it felt like the film focused too much on discussing the scripture and uncovering the real villain that the sisters merely became a means to an end when it was obvious from the beginning that there was more to the demon than what was being said.
The film’s failure was in investing too much time brewing the story when it was already good and ready within the first hour. Instead of wrapping up nicely with the remaining thirty minutes, it drew out its “brilliant” plot by another hour and only amped up the action within the last 15 minutes or so. The film plateaued early and proceeded at a monotone that did not change the frequency with every new discovery. And WTH kind of police force failed to make a simple connection that a board full of victims had? And they had the gall to brush off someone who had a solid lead? I may not be a fan of Pastor Park’s methods but at least he made the connection before the police did and that’s something.
All in all, “Svaha: The Sixth Finger” was far from extraordinary. It was not scary. It was not thought-provoking. It was boring, but it did touch on the very real issue of religious fanaticism, which is present in all types of religion, left unchecked. It was a movie that technically did everything right but failed on the level that it did not evoke much of an impact given the material it covered. Sometimes, talking above an audience’s head takes its toll and it took its toll for this movie, big time. For me, at least.
So, see it or skip it? Skip it.