Korean and Japanese horror is often associated with images of ghostly young women with long dark hair that ominously approaches you. And while there are certainly many films that follow this trope, it doesn’t mean that it’s the only one. Shudder’s latest original film Metamorphosis, proves that Korean horror can dabble in a subject quite familiar to Western Christians: exorcism.
A Family Matter
The film deals with a priest who, following an exorcism, has been doubting himself, as well as his faith. The demon then sets its sights on the priests own family members, and he must battle evil once and for all.
It’s one part haunted house/possession horror and one part religious/spiritual drama. The main character does feel very reminiscent of Father Karras in The Exorcist. Both are dealing with their own personal issues in the beginning, both feel that they have let their family down, and both rise to the occasion.
On the surface, it may seem a little derivative, but it’s done well here and you’re going to mimic something, why not mimic the greatest possession movie ever made? Plus, Metamorphosis does a really great job of balancing between the haunted house plot and the priest plot, as we the audience know that they will inevitably converge.
There’s also a really interesting idea this movie explores that’s not common in most horror. Quite often in supernatural horror, we see some sort of exorcist, shaman, spiritualist, or paranormal investigator show up to investigate and help the family or person in need.
Characters like this usually show up in the second or third act, and we don’t see much of their personal or family life, let alone see how their work affects it. The very idea that an exorcist’s own family could be in danger from a vengeful demon is legitimately terrifying, and it’s the entire plot of Metamorphosis!
Ever since the massive success of The Exorcist back in 1973, possession films have sought to one up each other in an effort to stand out. This has resulted in exorcism scenes that feature wind machines, shattering windows (Deliver Us From Evil, The Possession), shotguns firing off randomly (The Conjuring), and even the ground opening up to hell itself (Exorcist III).
While this movie does rely on makeup effects to denote possession, it’s not too over the top, and the whole thing feels very realistic, all things considered. We don’t ever actually see the demon, but its effects are very real, particularly when it causes a car crash to prevent an exorcist from getting somewhere.
Overall, Metamorphosis is a thoughtful and interesting possession thriller that feels both grounded and realistic, but doesn’t hold back from the creepiness either.
Metamorphosis is streaming exclusively on Shudder
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