“The Wailing” is a classic Good vs. Evil horror film that will send chills down your spine and make you squirm in your seat. This Korean film incorporates every familiar scenario of the devil and religion, but takes it to an extreme level to keep you captivated and intrigued even at the very long running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.
A gruesome and inexplicable murder has occurred. We follow Sargeant as he and his men investigate, only to stumble upon more and more twisted and bizarre deaths in the village. When Jong-Goo’s (Do Won Kwak) daughter, Hyo-jin, is “infected,” he must not only fight to find the truth, but to save his little girl and the entire town.
Jong-Goo and his police officer partner are an embarrassment to the force as they bumble, physically and intellectually, through their investigations. Falling into the trap of listening to village gossip, they actually stumble upon clues leading them to the next site aka trap. Hyo-jin transforms from a sweet, yet wise beyond her years little girl into a devil child. No more respectful little girl as the foul language spews from her snarling mouth. She follows the same pattern as the previous victims. Jong-Goo and his family attempt to fight the evil within using a Shaman as they hunt down the new and unfamiliar Japanese man in town whom they suspect to be the culprit. Bodies continue to pile up. Horrific battles between zombie-like creatures occur and plenty of blood is spilled. It’s a massacre of the weak and easily tempted souls.
“The Wailing” is an intense, gruesome, and suspenseful classic horror movie filled with lots of screaming, blood and gore, and disgusting as well as disturbing images. Where “The Wailing” walks the straight line of horror film as we get glimpses of “Frankenstein” and the townspeople hunting down the outsider who is different; and watching The Exorcist with the newest (and better) version of Linda Blair; and finally any Zombie movie from the last several decades. However, what separates this from more traditional films is that you are actually unsure of who the victims are and who is to blame. This mystery of sorts creates a better and perhaps newer version of a horror film.
Initially, there were moments of comic relief, but those were quickly put aside allowing only tension and brutal moments. Those visually brutal images, however, are frequently counterbalanced by stunning mountain ranges and wooded landscapes inviting you to relax…but don’t. The film fluidly incorporates an interesting blend of both Eastern and Western religious beliefs, but the common and underlying theme, no matter the culture, is Good vs. Evil and which will prevail.
Written and directed by Na Hong-jin who understands how to grab a viewer, visually and emotionally, and then make you gasp, he builds suspense while continually forcing you to rationalize what is happening. Skillful editing, meticulous attention to music, and ominous lighting, gives you the right combination to elicit fear as well as repulsion.
“The Wailing” is definitely for those who love horror, but finding a way to build a mystery into it as well will just increase your level of enjoyment. Be warned! This is very violent and extremely graphic! Heed the R Rating on this film.
3 1/2 Stars (if you love horror films)