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The Wailing [2016]: Killing them diabolically

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The Wailing is the best psychological-thriller horror film since William Friedkin’s ‘The Exorcist (1973)’.

Review by Deloret

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In a town inhabited by mind numbing summer blockbusters, Hong-Jin’s The Wailing encroaches like a foreign stranger that possesses viewers with its demonic charms. To put it briefly, the movie is about a berserk battle between hex and crow, in which rooster plays an important role. It’s a genre transcending movie that captures horror with lens of humor. The biggest achievement of Hong-jin is finding harmony among seemingly contradictory concepts, for instance perfect blend of eastern and western philosophy. Though rife with supernatural elements, at its core, movie is about feeling of insecurity that arises from potential foreign threat, as it subtly hints to Japan-Korea relationship.

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The Wailing is vaguely reminiscent of Bong Joon-Ho masterpiece ‘Memories of Murder’. Apart from obvious similarities, what stands out is the use of rain to depict state of ultimate chaos. It’s about rain of suspicion that obscures the mind of a sane man, beclouds his judgement. When you’re dealing with an unknown entity, it’s hard to decide whom to trust. The best course is to wait until sky is clear, but fear drives people insane, and that’s what devil feeds on. Another theme Hong-Jin touches upon is unabashed and unpredictable nature of Death. He shows death as bait that anyone can fall for. The Wailing is three hours thrill ride into dark tunnel of men’s deepest fear, a murder mystery with elements of folklore, and ultimately the bait worth falling for.

Let’s end it with a joke. A detective, a shaman and a stranger walked into bar. After few drinks detective starts crying, shaman starts dancing but stranger is still sober. Shaman whispers into ear of detective, ‘Now you know who the devil is.’

★★★★½

Review by Nafees

Forget about most of the inflated but substandard horror films you been served since long time, there is nothing quite like ‘The Wailing’. It makes the most loved horror film series in recent times , ‘The Conjuring’ look like a school project. ‘The Wailing’ is the best psychological-thriller horror film since William Friedkin’s ‘The Exorcist (1973)’. And if you don’t follow international film festivals and Korean cinema, probably it is good to register the name ‘Na Hong-jin’, director & writer of ‘The Wailing’, who also made more viable and accessible action thriller ‘The Yellow Sea’ and ‘The Chaser’.  ‘The Wailing’ is like a gigantic monster whose presence is unknown but his terror-stricken ominous presence of supernatural force is felt by eerie silence around you, like you are just to be gulped by rain of horror.

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The film is set in the small mountain town of Korea where people are locked in the worst nightmarish conflict of mysterious happening to the village dwellers, rational thinking, and super natural forces. At the center of the conflict is incompetent,sissy Police officer Jong-gu (Kwak Do-won) who is going through mid-life crisis, and having an extra marital affair, and some how he gets entangle in strange random killing rampage. His investigation unleashes the greatest terror in the form of paranoia and satanic cult. Disclosing any further plot would be a crime.

Na Hong-jin let the central plot grow organically with the time, while keeping its audiences busy setting the puzzling trap of horror served with the dash of doleful humor. If you had not know nothing about the film, you would probably believe that the film is comedy thriller in its first hour.  While Na Hon-jin’s magnificent multi-layered screenplay keeps you busy in collecting the subplot of creepy & strange killing in town, you don’t even realize how he already tricked you in his sinistral and nightmarish plot that will be hard to forget for days, or even months.

Na cleverly bends the multiple genre with such panache into satanic cult and ancient folk tale, that it elevates genre transcending of combination of thriller with art house element that evolved decades back in South East Asia.  And be warned, never go to your house until you hear three roasters after coming from night-out, never ever.

★★★★½

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