Another Korean film that’s found its way to Netflix, Svaha: The Sixth Finger is an odd film that starts out as what seems to be a cult related horror film. Then settles into a plotline that’s more of a mystery with flashes of horror.
Beginning with a prologue involving the birth of twins and the subsequent death of their parents Svaha: The Sixth Finger quickly introduces us to Pastor Park (Jung-Jae Lee, Tik Tok). A self-professed expert on cults and fringe religious groups. We see him hustling for donations and setting his sites on what appears to be a new cult. Deer Hill appears to be based on Buddhism and quite benevolent. But he needs dirt on it to use it as a tool to scare more donations out of people.
As he’s doing this, the police under Chief Hwang (Jin-young Jung, Pandora) are called to the scene of an unusual crime. A truck has struck the edge of a tunnel. It shattered the concrete and revealed the body of a young girl. More bodies turn up, and unsurprisingly there is a link to members of the cult.
But what is the connection of all of this to Geum-Hwa (Lee Jae-in), the now-grown twin we saw born in the prologue? And possibly more important to her sister who was not expected to live and been hidden away ever since?
Until recently my experiences with Korean cinema was mostly action films like The Tube and Typhoon or horror films such as I Saw The Devil and Train To Busan. But as Netflix adds more thrillers and crime films such as Jo Pil-Ho: The Dawning Rage I’m getting a taste for them as well
Director Jae-Hyun Jang’s previous film, The Priests, also mixed religion, horror, and mystery. It seems a fair assumption that he has a deep interest in these topics. Indeed Svaha: The Sixth Finger delves fairly deep into both Christian and Buddhist lore at times. And at just over two hours there’s plenty of time for that.
Though at times that does slow the film’s pace to a crawl it’s a minor irritant. My main complaint about Svaha: The Sixth Finger is that it has so many plot threads that turn out to be irrelevant. These could have been cut back, or even eliminated to streamline the plot. Interesting characters disappear without explanation and others that seem to be important end up having no real effect on events.
The sudden shifts back and forth between horror and crime thriller may also put some people off. But I thought they helped keep things interesting, especially given the film’s length. Even if it’s never overly scary there are some genuinely eerie images in the film. It’s an enjoyably different mix.
Svaha: The Sixth Finger is available on Netflix,