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 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 an 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 by 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.