A stranger arrives in a little village and soon after a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman is drawn into the incident and is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter.
ActorsStarring: Kwak Do-won, Hwang Jeong-min, Chun Woo-hee, Jang So-yeon, Jo Han-Cheol, Jun Kunimura, Kim Hwan-hee
I can’t say the idea of a Korean horror movie automatically puts a film very high on my viewing list; I have seen enough Korean movies to have learnt that they can have a certain je ne sais quoi though: a kind of wacky weirdness that if, a fairly big if…, but if it clicks, it works. The Wailing is one of those.
It has a two and a half hour running time, which usually for a horror movie means the viewer is bored to death long before the actors have all been killed off. When such a long running time does work for a horror movie, it means there is something else going on besides a jump-scare gore-fest. In The Wailing that is a combination of wacky humour, mystery, crime, and Asian mysticism vs Western catholicism. And plenty of gore too; this movie will not be for everyone.
Jong-gu is a somewhat lazy, plump and incompetent policeman in South Korea’s Goksong, who gets called in to investigate a gruesome double murder, where it seems a madman has savagely killed two people by ripping them apart with his teeth. Maybe it was the mushrooms he ate…? Not long after, another killing takes place by a mad woman who seems to have turned into a zombie. Jong-gu stumbles and bumbles his way through the investigations without making much real progress. But there are rumours that a Japanese man who lives somewhere in the hills outside town may have something to do with it. When Jong-gu’s young daughter starts gets sick, and soon starts to ridicule and scream vulgarities at her father, the movie ratchets things up a notch as grandma brings in a Shaman to exorcise the evil from the child and Jong-gu is determined to find out what the Japanese man has to do with everything.
The story is well-written, and the movie sort of switches gear, style and theme every now and then. The cinematography is often beautiful – not only when we see vistas of the rain pounding down on the South Korean mountains, but also when we for instance see the Shaman doing his work in a intense scene. The final segment brings another theme and twist that feels a bit weird at first, but it does tie the story together, even if the movie may not answer every question you will have at the end of it….
A recommended watch if you enjoy your movies to be a wacky blend of mystery and mysticism, boiled in a wicked witches’ cauldron with more than a pinch of dark humour, and gore galore.
In its genre, easily four stars.