Foreign films have long been my go-to when it comes to horror. They just seem to do things scarier abroad than we do in the US, especially in Asia. Japan first won my heart with Audition way back when, quickly followed by films pouring out of South Korea and Thailand. And while countries such as France have really stepped up in recent years, Asian horror is simply number one in the eyes of many horror fanatics, including myself.
Most assume found footage films to be a phenomenon of the US, but that doesn’t mean that other countries aren’t out there making them. Some of the most popular ones are from overseas, including Noroi: The Curse, [REC], and A Record of Sweet Murder. But on October 14th of this year, Shudder released a new Thai-Korean found footage film to US audiences, and it calls all the ones before it to task.
The Medium is a slow burn, to be sure, and not everyone enjoys those. I personally love the buildup, the ever-growing tension of knowing something is just around the corner, and the anticipation of the payoff. And boy, does this film pay off in a big way. The movie is about a Thai documentary crew who follows around a shaman named Nim. She’s possessed by the goddess Ba Yan, an inheritance she received from women in her family before her. She goes about her daily duties, but when attending a funeral for her brother-in-law, it soon becomes clear something isn’t right with her niece, Mink. The family believes that Mink is receiving the inheritance of possession by Ba Yan, and the crew decides to follow her, as well, to document this transition from one shaman to another. But things aren’t what they seem, and to say it gets a bit crazy is an understatement.
The movie filled me with a renewed love for found footage and what it can be when done right. I was never quite sure where it was going, and yet I loved every minute of the twisty and terrifying ride. What made me pause and reflect on all the other films like it I’d seen is that there was no introduction to the documentary crew. No long exposition about who they were, what their relationships were like, or how they liked their steak cooked. The documentary just happened, which made it even scarier (if it were possible) because it felt more like real found footage than any other documentary-style film of that subgenre.
If you’re one of those horror fans who doesn’t care for subtitled films, I won’t hold it against you, but this is one you’ll be glad you watched. The refreshing nature of the way it’s done and the absolute terror contained within makes me crave more just like it, no matter what country it comes from. Found footage films, while seemingly overdone, can be so much scarier than normal horror when made right… and The Medium found that sweet spot to make it to top of my list of 2021 horror watching.
The Medium is streaming exclusively on Shudder.