“Lingering” – Movie Review

The past often has a way to haunt us for many years to come.  Whether this haunting is literal in supernatural form, or a figurative haunting in the form of past trauma, it can hold a dominion over the present.  Shudder’s latest original film from South Korea, The Lingering taps into both.

Haunted Hotel
We begin with a young woman taking custody of her child sister, as they both go to live in their family’s hotel with their aunt.  Upon exploring the old building, they discover that it’s filled with unrested spirits, stemming from an old family trauma.

There’s already a bit of a disconnect, given the vast age difference between siblings.

Ultimately this leads to a creepy payoff with a “twist” that while seeming obvious, does make sense.  Without getting into spoilers, let’s just say that very often humans are just as frightening and terrible as malevolent spirits.

Atmospheric Slow Burn
It’s a legitimately impressive feat from first time writer/director Yoon Een-Kyoung who manages to toe the line between overt horror and subtlety.

In line with many Asian horror films, the supernatural threat doesn’t jump out and scare you, rather it draws you in with a creepy and suspenseful tone.  Definitely more of a slow burn, it takes its time getting to the horror.   But when it does, it basks in its own unsettling environment and makes the most of it.

Perhaps the best word to describe it would be dread.

Inevitable Comparison
Any time a film features a haunted hotel, comparisons to The Shining aren’t far behind, which can be both a good and a bad thing.  It immediately gives the new movie a form of recognition, but when it’s judged by being compared to a cinematic classic, it’s a bit unfair.  So in the spirit of that, let’s just discuss how it’s different from The Shining, and why that works here.

One of the most common praises of The Shining is that the Overlook Hotel feels like a character itself.  Its cold and icy demeanor are matched only by the horrors that lurk within.

Lingering, while having great set and art design with its hotel, feels more “normal” and less “over the top”.  The horror comes from the fact that something so frightening could invade a seemingly ordinary place.

So if you’re a fan of the haunted dwellings subgenre, and don’t mind slow burns or reading subtitles, check out Lingering on Shudder!

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