The Wailing

500 Days Of Film Reviews Supernatural Horror, The Wailing, Starring  Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang and Do Won Kwak 

A mysterious man's appearance in a rural village sparks rumours among its locals. Who is he and what are his motives? Suspicion soon turns to hysteria when some of the villagers fall prey to a mania that transforms them into savage killers.


It's up to bumbling police officer, Jong-Goo (Do Won Kwak), to solve the mystery. However, the investigation descends into desperation and despair when his daughter, Hyo-jin (Hwan-hee Kim) becomes infected. 


Jong-Goo agrees to consult a shaman for answers - unknowingly escalating the situation into something far more dangerous.

Is It Any Good?

"‘Why are you troubled,’ Jesus asked, 'and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself. Touch me and see — for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’" - Luke 24:38


Starting with this Biblical quotation, The Wailing’s key theme is made clear. How do you know who is good and who is evil? Should we mistrust those who are ‘other’ or is danger found much closer to home? 



I thoroughly enjoyed director Hong-jin Na’s The Wailing. This is an entertaining, gripping and unsettling horror movie. It is also surprisingly funny with many laugh out loud moments.


Jong-Goo’s ineffective police officer is perfectly portrayed by Do Won Kwak. In the beginning, he is utterly useless - horrendously out of his depth and unable to make sense of the grisly murders.


However, as frustrating as he is, Jong-Goo is also endearing - particularly when he is with his daughter Hyo-jin (superbly played by Hwan-hee Kim). As a result, we care about what happens to Jong-Goo and his family.


Thus Hong-jin Na has us in the palm of his hand. After Hyo-jin becomes possessed, the director moves his story from black comedy to tense and unsettling horror. 



The horror elements within The Wailing are remarkably effective. Hong-jin Na has no need for jump scares, cranking up the tension and attacking our senses with noise, overwrought emotion and disturbing visuals.


While there are clear references to many classic horror movies (particularly William Friedkin’s The Exorcist), The Wailing also feels fresh, bringing something new and exciting to the horror genre. 


However, that 'something' is hard to define. Call it mania, label it crazed or name it just plain weird, in the end it doesn't really matter. I loved The Wailing because it melds genres, defies expectations and keeps you guessing until the very last second - and beyond. 


Random Observations

Yes, there is a lot of wailing here. 


At two hours and thirty six minutes, this is a long film. Perhaps The Wailing could have been trimmed here and there, but I was never bored - there was far too much crazy going on!


The murder scenes are incredibly blood-soaked and pretty much every character is covered in the red stuff at one stage or another. However, The Wailing is actually quite restrained when it comes to full on gore.   


Have you seen The Wailing?


If you have, what did you think of this supernatural horror film? Let me know by leaving me a comment in the box below!

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones



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