The Closet (2020) – movie review

The Closet. Image credit: Courtesy of AsianWiki The Closet. Image credit: Courtesy of AsianWiki

Most Korean horror movies are rather slow-paced, complex and dense, which are some of the reasons why I love them! The Closet, written and directed by first-timer Kwang-bin Kim, is a way more straightforward and faster paced supernatural horror film.

This movie came out in theatres in South Korea last February and, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its worldwide digital released has been postponed at the moment. However, I was lucky enough to get an online screener version of it. Follow my Facebook page to get updated on the release of The Closet.

Continue reading and check my final grade below…

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The Closet – a familiar ghost story

After Sang-Won (Jung-woo Ha) loses his wife because of a tragic car accident, he and his daughter Yi Na (Yool Heo) move to an isolated cabin in the middle of nowhere. Strange noises, seemingly coming from the closet in Yi Na’s room, keep the girl awake and have her terrified: Sang-Won believes it’s just the girl’s imagination until, one day, Yi Na starts behaving in a very hostile way. Things between father and daughter become increasingly worse and Sang-Won decides to seek help from some of the villagers, who point him in the direction of a shaman/exorcist. Sang-Won refuses to rely on such people but, after Yi Na goes missing in their new home, the local exorcist approaches him and tells him to look for her in the closet, causing all hell to break loose.

The Closet hits the same plot bits and follows the same formula of dozens of cookie-cutter possession/exorcism horror flicks. This is a movie that’s riddled with clichés, from jump-scares to creepy child laughter to evils spirits with mythology rooted in the past, and many, many more.

Turning clichés into a fun time

Yet, the way tropes and clichés are used in The Closet makes you easily look past them and enjoy the ride. As I said many times before on this website, tropes and conventions in horror aren’t necessarily a bad thing, it always depends on the way they’re implemented in story and characters.

As formulaic as the clichés in The Closet are, they’re constantly used in the best way possible. This movie succeeds mostly thanks to its breakneck pace that leaves no room for dull moments and exposition-heavy sequences. The story, here, is delivered through visuals and through the events happening on screen, as opposed to having the lazy trope of characters explaining the plot to each other. Even the jump-scares are always effective and unpredictable, as they’re not set up in an obvious way and don’t rely on manipulative post-production sounds. In many ways, The Closet is reminiscent of the Insidious and the Conjuring movies: those flicks are extremely cliched and unoriginal, but they’re still effective due to James Wan’s ability to make you care for the characters and to craft well-executed scares.

Great characters make for effective scares

In fact, one of the best aspects of The Closet is represented by the main characters. Although they’re still underdeveloped for my personal liking, they do have recognisable traits that make them relatable to the audience. Furthermore, the movie doesn’t slow down to establish them and, instead, it develops the character while the action is taking place.

Yet, every actor in the film does a fantastic job, including the young girl who plays Yi Na: she’s not just good for child actors standards, she’s genuinely excellent in the movie. Having relatable characters performed well by the actors helps every scary scene feeling more terrifying, because you don’t want to see them suffer.

Leading up to a climactic ghost-athon

Yet, The Closet features some truly frightening sequences thanks to the wonderful makeup and great implementation of CGI. Every demon/ghost/creature in the movie is quite disturbing-looking and scary, which is also enhanced by the good use of lighting and colour palette.

In the last act of the movie, during the final 30 minutes, The Closet goes completely bonkers, leading up to a crazy and highly-entertaining ending that’s very reminiscent of Hellbound: Hellraiser II, due to its nightmarish setting filled with vivid colours and frightening imagery.


While being extremely entertaining and frightening in a straightforward and conventional way, The Closet suffers mostly from unoriginality and lack of depth for its main characters. This movie, also, relies on a terrible score that is often misplaced and affects some of the scenes.

Aside from that, though, The Closet manages to be constantly scary, effective and entertaining. This is the kind of movie I can easily recommend to most fans of mainstream horror fans: it’s fast-paced, filled with scares and, yet, it’s very well-made and thought-out. It might not reinvent the wheel, but The Closet will certainly provide you with some crazy, intense and fun 90-minute-ride.

Rating 7

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