The Wailing (2016) Movie Review

The Wailing Cover Poster Art

2016 | Horror, Thriller, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
156 minutes /

User Score: 60/100

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The Wailing Review


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.

The Wailing (2016) is a 156-minute South Korean mystery horror-thriller film that is in Korean/Japanese language. Director and writer Hong-jin Na (The Chaser (2008), The Yellow Sea (2010), Sweat (2007)) excelled at bringing us this beautifully shot epic tale of terror centering on demonic possession. The movie was a fantastic watch that was everything I hoped for it to be and a little more but I cannot help thinking that the film could have been a phenomenal watch if I understood/spoke Korean.

The Wailing is set in a little rural village in the mountains of South Korea where everyone knows each other except for an intelligent young man moving into the village which we will call The Stranger. The Stranger likes to mind his own business and stay by himself, but the villagers cannot help themselves from blaming him for a mysterious sickness that started spreading through the village after his arrival. The village only has one small police station with a few police officers that goofs talk an awful lot.

Jong-goo (Do Won Kwak - The Man from Nowhere (2010), A Company Man (2012),
The Berlin File (2013), Tazza: The Hidden Card (2014)) is the main officer/leading officer that is also our hero. The police station thinks that the residents/villagers were poisoned from wild mushrooms. Jong-goo received information about The Stranger from a mysterious female Moo-myung as his daughter becomes sick with the same symptoms as the villagers. Jong-goo rushed his daughter to the shaman Il-gwan so that she can be protected while he tries to investigate the mysterious illness. The movie progresses to an indulging watch where we the audience try to figure out who the killer is along with Jong-goo.

I had a more enjoyable experience watching the movie the second time because I think I missed a few unique things while reading the English subtitle/caption. I love outdoor sceneries in films and the Korean countryside, and the forest was breathtaking. The actors did a splendid job with their roles. The CGI demons were not as scary as I would have liked them to be and that took away from the spine-chilling factor but the gross-out moments made up for that a little. The Wailing is a hit in Korea, and that can be a result of the gorgeous cinematography, dynamic atmosphere, nicely capturing vividness of the sets, we cannot forget our hero, Jong-goo, who has this compelling and lovable feel. With all said, The Wailing is a long movie that can be too much for viewers that do not have patience because there is also a lot of reading that comes along with it.

About The Wailing 2016

Title: The Wailing
AKA: Gok-seong
Year: 2016
Runtime: 156 minutes
Type: Movie
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
Score: 3.5 / 5 stars
Avg. Rating: 3/5 stars from 10 users.
Total Avg. Votes: 10
Starring: Jun Kunimura, Chang-gyu Kil, Do-Yoon Kim, Kang-gook Son, Woo-hee Chun, Jo Han-Chul, Jeong-min Hwang, So-yeon Jang, Han-Cheol Jo, Do Won Kwak, Jung-min Hwang, Gwi-hwa Choi, Sung-yeon Park, Hwan-hee Kim, Yong-nyeo Lee, Do-won Kwak, Jin Heo, Song-il Kim, Soo-Jeong Seong, Ho-sam Seon, Kwi-deok Kwon, Yong-geun Bae, Ah-ra Kim, Min-seok Song, Jae-il Im, Soo-Yeon Ahn, Jeong-ae Hyeon, Han-cheul Cho, In-Chul Lee, Ji-Hoon Jo
Writers: Hong-jin Na
Director: Hong-jin Na