THE WAILING (2016) Reviews and overview

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The Wailing is 2016 South Korean horror film written and directed by Na Hong-jin about a policeman who teams up with shaman and a mysterious woman to investigate mysterious killings and illnesses. Originally titled: 곡성(Hangul)哭聲 (hanja); Gokseong (RR), it was a commercial success at the box office.

A mysterious sickness is spreading among the people of the Goksung village, causing violent murderous outbreaks followed by stupor and eventually death.

Police and doctors first suspect the victims were poisoned by wild mushrooms. Officer Jong-goo, who is investigating the cases, meets a mysterious young woman called Moo-myeong (“no name” in Korean), who tells him about a Japanese stranger and his involvement with the deaths.


However, after Jing-goo confirms that she witnessed the crime, she disappears. Later, a local hunter tells Jong-goo that he saw the stranger eating an animal in the mountains, nearly naked and with his eyes glowing red…

“What makes Na’s film such a strange and beautiful trip is his adept blending of various genre tropes to create this peculiar hybrid that starts out as a comedic/scary police procedural, morphs into shades of The Exorcist, and then arrives at a place that is wholly its own through byways into death hex rituals and themes of colonialism, set amid the gorgeous and dangerous landscapes and mountains of the region.” The Austin Chronicle


“It’s a film you watch in a state of slowly gathering dread — not so much because it’s trying to scare you (it succeeds without trying), but because you’re never quite sure, on a deeper level, what it wants from you. At times the movie doesn’t seem too sure, either. It’s a supremely patient freakout.” Los Angeles Times

“Despite its epic length, The Wailing never bores as Na slathers his tale with generous supplies of atmosphere and awfulness.” Entertainment Weekly

” …fuses a detective story with Exorcist-styled chills to create an unsettling occult thriller that takes full advantage of the country’s majestic rain-drenched mountain terrain – but! and here’s the ‘But!’… it’s painfully ponderous, and in desperate need of an editors’ eye and some action.” Kultguy’s Keep

“On the one hand, the film is a gripping whodunnit, exemplified by a scene of classic Hitchcockian suspense, when Jong-gu makes a frightening discovery while snooping around the Japanese man. At the same time, it treads into supernatural territory through nightmarish dream sequences that feel unnervingly real, as animals, whether dead or alive, exert an unusually menacing power.” Variety

“There’s also plenty of humor, and zombies — did I mention the zombies? Na Hong-jin has a singular directorial voice, at once funny, frightening, and philosophical. Steeped in the guts and chase scenes are questions of faith, trust, and what it means to be a father…” Vulture





Cast and characters:
Kwak Do-won … Jong-Goo
Hwang Jung-min … Il-Gwang
Jun Kunimura … Japanese stranger
Chun Woo-hee … Moo-Myeong
Kim Hwan-hee … Hyo-jin
Her Jin as Mother-in-law
Jang So-yeon as Wife
Kim Do-yoon as Yang I-sam
Son Kang-gook as Oh Seong-bok
Park Seong-yeon as Kwon Myeong-joo
Kil Chang-gyoo as Park Choon-bae
Jeon Bae-soo as Deok-gi
Jeong Mi-nam as Heung-gook
Choi Gwi-hwa as Byeong-gyoo

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