Tag Archives: Huh Joon-ho

The Doctor Is Real In

Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman

by Hope Madden

Modern horror is littered with fake ghosthunter tales, films about scammers who come face to face with the evil they’re certain doesn’t exist. Kim Seong-sik’s Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman begins down a similar path.

Dr. Cheon (Gang Dong-won) leads his assistant/technician In-bae (Lee Dong-hwi) into the garden of a wealthy family whose bitchy teenage daughter they presume is possessed. She is, of course, just teenaged. Dr. Cheon convinces the family that it’s the house, he exorcises the house, tells the family what they want to hear, and all’s well that ends well.

But the truth is, Dr. Cheon is looking for more than the next gullible family to scam.

He finds it when Esom (Yoo-gyeong) dumps a bag of cash on his desk and asks him to follow her to her village, where her sister is possessed. Of course, though, this time the possession is real.

Don’t expect the same old routine of con artists being outed, learning a valuable lesson before bleeding out. Dr. Cheon is ready for this supernatural nemesis.

There’s a frenetic charm to the film’s main action sequence, where the demon leaps from one villager to the next as it chases Doc and Esom through town. Electric blue FX have a delightfully cheesy, throwback feel that balances the handful of gruesome moments.

Though never laugh out loud funny, levity throughout the film keeps it from ever crossing over truly to horror. Gang’s haunted straight man benefits nicely from Lee as a comedic sidekick, and veteran actor Huh Joon-ho menaces laudably as the evil mace, Beom-cheon.

Kim never fully lands on a tone. What begins as a lightweight horror show develops a kind of Saturday morning TV vibe before turning into an action adventure. Think Korean Dr. Jones meets Scooby Doo, or something along those lines. There’s a weird charm to it that might particularly delight those who like their scary movies not too scary.