The Wailing (2016)


Directed by Na Hong-jin
Country: South Korea

Na Hong-jin, the successful writer/director of the action-packed “The Yellow Sea” and “Chaser”, returns with a supernatural thriller that guarantees creeps and laughs in equal amounts.

Do Won Kwak plays the main character with aplomb. He is Jong-Goo, a small village cop whose qualm about unexplainable occurrences don’t refrain him from investigating a mysterious and quiet Japanese stranger (Jun Kunimura) who everybody says is an evil ghost. After this man’s arrival, a few brutal crimes, associated with a patterned ritual, started to happen, making him the main suspect, although without proof. The villagers also believe he raped a young woman (Chun Woo-hee) who became deeply affected and, since then, keeps wandering throughout the village with no apparent direction.
There’s a laughable foolishness, perhaps even a slight naivety, in Jong-Goo that arises sympathy. As a vulnerable man, he’s often tormented by nightmares and is not afraid to scream whenever startled.

A strange force possesses one villager at a time, making their bodies rot and impelling them to commit harrowing massacres, which frequently aim their own families. It seemed obvious that Jong-Goo and his partner nothing could do about it. However, when his daughter starts to evince abnormal behaviors and becomes violent, he accepts the help of a noisy shaman (Hwang Jung-min), who despite knowledgeable and available is also fallible. 
Meanwhile, he befriends with a young deacon whose curiosity about demons is larger than his faith.

The frequent presence of animals, shadowy figures, heavy rain, and hypnotic rituals are part of the ominous scenario, beautifully captured in Hong Kyung-pyo's cinematography and intensified through a powerful score. Once in a while, we are presented with a stunning landscape to break the tension, or that tension is broken by an unexpected humor, as in the scene that invokes a typical zombie attack.
Never tacky in the execution, “The Wailing” is rousingly entertaining and shall attract the ones who love to be shaken by the power of horror, crime, and action.