“The Wailing” (Goksung) is a great mystery detective thriller with carefully composed elements of supernatural horror, a kind of mix of “Memories of Murder “and “The Exorcist”. Although is not a classic horror movie, “The Wailing” captivates with its story and majestic performance.
Director Na Hong-jin is known to the general public for the intense crime thrillers “The Chaser” and “The Yellow Sea”. “The Wailing” continues the series and is arguably the best movie that Na Hong-jin has ever made. Moreover, it is also called one of the best Korean films. We can say Hong-jin has reaffirmed his talent in directing atmospheric, unpredictable genre films that keep viewers in constant suspense. You will hardly have any idea what direction this story is going, let alone guess at some of the few inventive twist that are waiting for you. The director does not at any time throw all the cards on the table, which is why to understand the action requires concentration and a desire to follow every detail.
So, indulge yourself at a leisurely pace that will guide you through the movie, soak up the atmosphere, and most importantly, don’t let the long duration distract you from watching. The beginning, middle and end of The Wailing do not seem to fit into the same film, but it is so intentionally designed – therein lies the charm of watching this unique movie creation.
You can see fantastic photography and scenography right at the beginning of the movie. The scenes in nature seem mystical and the scenes of the crime are mostly indoors which are very creepy and spooky. Photography has no “kitschy” stylistic solutions but rather a realistic look that only emphasizes the presence of supernatural evil when it chooses to appear. Some shots, however, give the impression of a dark fantasy, but they serve the purpose of the story and as such fit in with the rest of the film.
The movie is packed with atmosphere. “The Wailing” definitely does not lack “atmosphere”. The atmosphere is the card that he plays, not any card but a winning card. A real feat for a movie of impressive duration (156 min) and slower rhythm.
A bit of this demonic thriller is reminiscent of one of the most famous Korean films of all time, Bong’s “Memories of a Murder.” Here, too, we have a seemingly clumsy and slapstick cop named Jong-Goo, whose village is where the bizarre deaths that are apparently caused by a mysterious infection begin to happen. The superstitious locals begin blaming the mysterious old man from Japan, who has moved to the hills above the village and lives quite ascetically, for the infection that continues to cause death. When Jong-Go’s daughter becomes ill with this mysterious infection, the investigation into these mysteries for a police officer who experiences true character metamorphosis and becomes a determined and self-sacrificing type becomes completely personal. All the more so as he becomes increasingly convinced that the misery that hit his village is the fault of the old Japanese, and in order to discover what is happening, a young Catholic priest and a shaman arrive in the village. And that’s where the mysterious girl in white begins to appear.
Many people who watched the movie left the ending quite confused and it would not be fair for those who did not watch this maestral movie to go into explanation, but when you think better, everything all makes sense (there is a link where there is a detailed parsing and explaining the movie, if anyone is going to need it, but we recommend not reading this before watching the movie, as it could ruin the impression – https://www.thisisbarry.com/single-post/2018/05/21/Gokseong-Wailing-2016-Movie-Plot-Ending-Explained
“The Wailing” is an atypical South Korean thriller that often dances on the border of horror. It is not easy to watch and forces the viewer to collect the crumbs through the road, but it deserves all the attention until the very end. Atmospheric, shocking and disturbing.