Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is the Scariest Found Footage We've Seen (and It's Free to Watch Now)

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is the Scariest Found Footage We've Seen (and It's Free to Watch Now)
Image credit: Hive Mediacorp

What could be scarier than watching a PoV encounter with a creepy ghost?


  • South Korean horror films are not often shot in the found footage style.
  • However, one of them, Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, is considered one of the scariest K-horror movies ever made.
  • The movie is available for free streaming on Tubi.

The found footage subgenre of horror movies has a powerful ability to keep us on the edge of our seats. Deeply ingrained in the events unfolding on supposedly raw footage, no movie makes you feel for the characters like a found footage one. And when you add to the formula a polished approach to production and cinematography, as well as no less intriguing elements of supernatural horror and urban legend to the story, the result can be one of the scariest and most unsettling movies you'll ever see.

Horror genre has long been embraced by Korean and Japanese filmmakers, and there are some incredibly vivid and creepy examples. One such film is 2018's Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, which taps into South Korean content creators' and bloggers' love of streaming in abandoned places that, according to urban legends, are haunted.

While found footage films often don't get the warmest of reviews, audiences and critics alike have been left in awe. So why not immerse yourself in the eerie atmosphere of abandoned asylums, as Gonjiam is available for free streaming on Tubi?

A Rare Type of K-Horror

As a distinct style of horror film, found footage emerged in the late 70's and early 80's and was popularized by the incredibly scandalous Cannibal Holocaust of 1980. Then came a new peak of love for found footage with the release of The Blair Witch Project in 1999, which influenced horror filmmakers around the world, as well as the creation of analog horror projects and alternate reality games on YouTube, Twitter, and then TikTok.

The subgenre became particularly popular in Japan: as early as 1988, after Cannibal Holocaust, the Japanese horror Evil Dead Trap was released, following a TV host who receives a snuff video, and in the early 00s and early 10s, footage became one of the most popular techniques in J-horror.

But this was not a common device in K-horror movies, which makes Gonjiam not only one of the few, but definitely one of the best found footage movies in general.

One of the Creepiest Found Footage Movies

As mentioned above, while the subgenre itself is not the most common in South Korea, 'analog fear' is played out through YouTube and Twitch streams in which vloggers visit various abandoned, creepy-looking facilities. One of the creepiest of these places is the real-life Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, which closed in 1996 and was demolished in 2018. Naturally, many ghost stories about the souls of deceased patients have sprung up around it over the years.

The movie is based on these urban myths. The plot is typical for found-footage horror movies: A web series crew arrives at Gonjiam to host a live stream. But things do not go so well.

What Is the Critics' and Audience's Verdict on the Movie?

The film had impressive commercial and critical numbers, and may not have the prestige of, say, the acclaimed The Wailing, but it literally revitalized the K-horror industry, becoming the third most-watched horror film in South Korea after A Tale of Two Sisters and Phone, two iconic horror films of the '00s. With a budget of $2.2 million, Gonjiam grossed $21 million at the worldwide box office.

The film also boasts impressive reviews on review aggregators. On Rotten Tomatoes, for example, it has a 91% approval rating from critics and a 75% approval rating from audiences.

The film may not contain the most original scripts, but it does contain some very worthy scares and is a valuable source for the depiction of Korean mythological thinking that influences the plots of their horror films.