Horror, humor and 'Handsome Guys': Genre-bending film promises both laughs and scares

From left, actor Park Ji-hwan, actor Lee Sung-min, director Nam Dong-hyub, actor Gong Seung-yeon, a life-size cutout of actor Lee Kyoo-hyung and actor Lee Hee-jun pose for a photo at a press conference for the upcoming film ″Handsome Guys″ in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, on Monday. Actor Lee Kyoo-hyung could not attend the press conference due to personal health issues. [YONHAP]

A heartwarming human drama takes a comic turn to romance and then ends up in a haunted cabin. This is the plot of "Handsome Guys," the latest all-in-one horror-comedy by director Nam Dong-hyub. It hopes to bring laughs along with some unexpected spooky surprises through its special mashup of genres.

“When watching our movie, the audience can meet actor Lee Hee-jun’s melodrama, actor Gong Seung-yeon’s portrayal of a horror queen and actor Lee Sung-min’s human drama story,” director Nam Dong-hyub said, introducing the film at a press conference held in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, on Monday.

“Actor Park Ji-hwan, who mainly played criminals in his previous films, has taken on the role of a police officer this time, which the audience can look forward to seeing,” Nam said.

Director Nam Dong-hyub speaks during a press conference held in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, on Monday. [YONHAP].

“Handsome Guys” is director Nam’s feature film directorial debut. It stars actors Lee Sung-min as Jae-pil, Lee Hee-jun as Sang-gu, Gong Seung-yeon as Mi-na, Park Ji-hwan as Captain Choi and Lee Kyoo-hyung as Officer Nam.

It centers around carpenters Jae-pil and Sang-gu, who purchase a mountain cabin where unexpected and mysterious incidents keep occurring. The incidents are tied to an evil spirit in the basement that gets unlocked and awakened.

The mix of comedy and horror is common in the world of film, especially in the Western movie scene, but less so in Korea. So, treading carefully and striking the right balance between the two genres was a challenge, according to director Nam.

The film has a Hollywood-style occult theme, which is different from the Korean-style occult film trend led by the recent hit film “Exhuma," according to the director. Nam also took inspiration from U.S. comedy flicks from the 1980s and 1990s.

A still from the upcoming horror comedy film ″Handsome Guys″ [NEW]
A still from the upcoming horror comedy film ″Handsome Guys″ [NEW]

“I worked hard to find the right tone for our film,” Nam said. “I put much thought into how to express the scene where the evil spirit appears. As our work is a comedy film, it would be too much to exaggerate the spirit’s appearance like [general] horror films, but I didn’t want to make the scene too light because our film is a comedy.”

“The evil spirit is the core of the film, which is a very terrifying guy that we unseal due to curiosity,” actor Lee Sung-min said. “As the evil spirit gets unlocked, a new chapter opens up in the film.”

The mixing of genres was also what got the actors interested.

“I picked the film because it felt fresh, as there were several genres mixed together and I wanted to try something different,” Lee Sung-min added. The actor recently played a number of serious roles in his previous works, such as “12.12: The Day” (2023) and JTBC's "Reborn Rich" (2022).

“I personally enjoy stories that I can’t guess where they're heading, and ‘Handsome Guys’ was just like that,” Lee Hee-jun said.

A still from the upcoming horror comedy film ″Handsome Guys″ [NEW]

The meaning of the word "handsome" was also put to the test in the film, especially by actors Lee Sung-min and Lee Hee-jun.

“It was a dilemma for me, as the film's title is ‘Handsome Guys,’” Lee Sung-min said. “When we say handsome, we usually think of actors like Jung Woo-sung or Gang Dong-won, who suit the word. So, at first, it was a dilemma for me, thinking about how to overcome it.”

“While shooting the film, I reimagined the term as not being handsome in terms of good looking but as a term expressing how cool one is.”

The film includes various points for the audience to look forward to, including what movie fans call an "Easter egg," the cast and director said.

A still from the upcoming horror comedy film ″Handsome Guys″ [NEW]
A still from the upcoming horror comedy film ″Handsome Guys″ [NEW]

“The audience should prepare to laugh,” said Lee Hee-jun, while Gong expressed her excitement for the film's release.

“Everybody said that it had been a while since they had done a film that they were eager to show the audience,” Gong said. “I’m curious how the audience will react to our film.”

The upcoming horror-comedy film, distributed by NEW, is scheduled to premiere on June 26. It was also produced by Hive Media Corp, which has produced Korean hit films. These include "12.12: The Day," which drew in over 10 million moviegoers, and "The Man Standing Next" (2020), which featured “Handsome Guys” actors Lee Sung-min and Lee Hee-jun.