The Divine Fury, written and directed by Kim Joo-hwan, is a new Korean supernatural horror movie that is very different from anything you would see coming out of America. Much more ambitious than a majority of most other foreign horror films, but still flawed, this movie ultimately suffers from what seems to be over-indulgence.
The film follows a skilled mixed martial arts fighter who, after discovering mysterious markings on his hands, teams up with a priest to help rid the world of evil demons with newfound supernatural powers. This premise offers the potential for a unique twist on the exorcism genre, but unfortunately, the movie doesn’t quite come together to be what it should.
One of the biggest issues with the film is that the pacing is far too slow. The runtime is over two hours, which is extremely long for a horror movie. This is because too much time is spent trying to set up the world rather than throwing us into the action. A few bursts of excitement here and there don’t make for a viewing experience that is entertaining as a whole.
The film is also unable to utilize the MMA connections in its premise. For a majority of the movie, there is little action to be found, yet the protagonist is a skilled fighter. Eventually, there are one or two memorable action sequences, but it takes far too long to get there and the payoff isn’t nearly strong enough. If the film had more martial arts, it would have been instantly more entertaining.
The character development also isn’t strong enough to drive the movie. Although we sympathize with the protagonist because of the incident that caused him to lose his father as a child (shown in a non-graphic but still horrifying way), the character lacks the charm and depth needed to turn him into a compelling hero. None of the supporting characters, including the antagonist, are given enough of a backstory to really care about them.
Park Seo-jun is a charming actor, and he does a solid enough job in his role, if only he were given more to do. If he gets a film in the future where his role is more complex and requires more nuance, he is sure to make a great leading man. The supporting cast, on the other hand, isn’t particularly memorable. Perhaps it is due to the script giving them a lack of material, but no one is able to stand out.
On a technical level, the movie is actually very good. The visual effects in the film are surprisingly impressive, especially for a genre movie from another country. Because we are so used to American horror trends, foreign horror can sometimes look laughable to us. That is not the case with this film, as the blend of practical effects and CGI works quite well.
The Divine Fury looks good and has some entertaining moments, but is just too inconsistent to be particularly memorable. However, even though some of its swings were misses, it should be praised for being an ambitious horror movie.
The Divine Fury opens in theaters on August 16.