The Wailing (2016)


Written and Directed by Na Hong-jin

Starring Kwak Do-wan, Hwang Jung-min, Chun Woo-hee and Jun Kunimura

It is no secret that Asian horror tends to be on a completely different wavelength than Western horror. What might frighten us might have no effect on Japanese, Korean or Thai audiences and vice versa. Yet one trans-cultural, universal truth remains: we all fear that which we do not understand. In saying that, one might fear watching this film simply due to it’s intensity, bizarre subject matter and intentionally vague plot. Yet it is this very level of mystery, this aura that one is witnessing something truly unique that makes this film stand out.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what exists in the film reels of The Wailing. It is a mystery on the same level as it is a ghost story or a zombie opus or even a comedy. It zigzags between genre conventions with startling speed and shifts tones on a seeming constant basis. The audio is unrelenting, a staccato of banging drums and unearthly screeches before segueing into eerie quiet. It’s a disorienting and difficult to watch film to say the least.

Yet this is what makes such a film so appealing. It holds steadfast on technical aspects such as the beautiful rural cinematography, the strong acting (especially from the child), the unrelenting action and disquieting gore and the nasty practical makeup effects.

It really is a film unlike any other. Not everyone will understand it. Some viewers will be put off by the bizarre tonality and sheer discomfort. At times I wanted to mute the film or turn away from the occasional violence towards animals. Then I realize that the film seems to be manipulating me and I applaud it for the sheer gall. I give it a strong rating on how well made and intense it is. It’s memorable and unsettling but the lack of cohesion or a satisfactory conclusion take just the slightest from the overall impact.

But overall, I can’t recommend The Wailing enough. It’s available on Netflix as of April 2017, so go ahead and stream it!

4.5/5 Angry Pitbulls

Splatter Factor: 4/5  *** This is a very gory and intense film. There are plenty of scenes of gruesome violence, disease laden bodies, blunt instruments to the head and a particularly nasty looking individual near films end. A great gore showcase! ***

The Collective speaks:

We enjoy the spiritual and demonic and viral and spectral and mental side of everything macabre in this world. We simply cannot decide which atrocity to apply to this film and for that and the enigmatic aura the film presents, we applaud with the talons, wings, claws and pinchers that make up our many beings.  

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