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A movie that almost makes sense, but not quite, and this may be the whole point
oddeveneven10 January 2017
Some movies have a coherent plot that is told in a non-straightforward fashion, or that is open to several interpretations, or that leaves out some parts requiring the audience to fill-in (e.g. an open end), and possibly this filling-in can be done in more than one way. These movies require several viewings and considerable thought to make sense.

After watching The Wailing for the first time, I had the impression that it was this kind of movie. However, after watching it again, pondering it, and then reading and watching attempts by various people to interpret/explain it, I have come to a different conclusion. Namely, this movie does not have a coherent underlying plot. No matter how you shift the pieces of the puzzle in an attempt to recreate a coherent narrative, some pieces will never fit together, and not due to your incompetence, but because the underlying story is - possibly intentionally, possibly not - fundamentally inconsistent. It's like one of those optical illusions or Escher drawings that appear to describe a physical object, but in fact don't make physical sense.

Accordingly, whether one enjoys this movie or not boils down to whether one can be content with a movie that is technically well-made (cinematography, acting, costumes, etc.), but (a) its plot makes no sense, and (b) it is told in a deceptive way as to lure you into thinking that the plot would make sense if only you gave the matter sufficient thought, thus leaving you with a lingering, irritating feeling of dissatisfaction and confusion.

And maybe this is precisely the point of the movie: rather than telling a story, its purpose is to instill in the audience a feeling of confusion in the face of a sequence of events that almost, but not quite, makes sense. Much like life at times, no?
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Astonishing "Ambiguous Ending" Horror
A_Different_Drummer7 December 2016
SPOILER: Have seen a lot of films, reviewed a lot of films but this extraordinary two and a half hour technically-perfect humanistic horror film from one of the finest writer/directors in the business (auteur of I SAW THE DEVIL) was something of a cipher.

The closest analog I can suggest in David Lynch's 2001's Mulholland Drive, yet another technically perfect, humanistic, suspense opus which keeps you captivated for its full length, yet has you walking out of the theatre shaking your head and wondering what exactly you just saw? Both film-makers understand the "big secret" of story telling which is, if you can present your story in such a way that the viewer feels he or she is sharing the experience with the protagonist, you can tell any story you like and the viewer will just keep going.

I will not even try to provide an explanation for what THE WAILING means, other than to re-quote the writer/director himself who, in numerous interviews on his film, said enigmatically "I began to wonder about the nature of God -- what if he was not always good?" Recommended on many levels. As entertainment, as a puzzle, and as a clinic in how to make a film that engages ... and just won't let go.
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Beware The Wailing! This film will stick with you
wcoleparks21 June 2016
The Wailing opens with a quote from the bible. It is easy to forget this fact while watching most of the film, but at a certain point it becomes clear the purpose that quote served. It is almost like a warning: "if you are a religious person, this film will scare every part of you." This is where The Wailing works so well. As a religious parable, it overcomes its lengthy running time and tonal imbalance, to deliver an often funny but truly terrifying film.

When a mysterious stranger moves to a small village in South Korea, the village becomes plagued by sickness. The police think a wild mushroom is to blame, but police officer Jong-goo thinks it may have something to do with the stranger. He meets a woman who gives him some information about this mysterious man, and slowly begins to fall down a rabbit hole that consumes his life. When his daughter starts to show signs of the sickness, it gets personal and he must figure out who to trust and who to avoid.

The director, Hong-jin Na, struggles to find a good tonal balance. At times pitch perfect and at other times all over the place, the tone struggles to stay consistent. For the first third of the film, it is primarily a funny movie with briefs bursts of depravity and violence. The comedy works well and I found myself laughing a number of times. Then when the horrific imagery would come up it was sudden and effective. There was a good balance here that gets lost in the second act. The comedy becomes more slapstick and does not fit with the rest of the film. The characters also become over-the-top and act in exaggerated ways very different from how they were introduced. This middle section also has some moments of unintentional humor. One example sees a man struck by lightening and another has the caller ID for a shaman come up on the phone as "Shaman".

Fortunately it finds a good balance again in the third act, but smartly switches it up from the first act. It becomes intense and terrifying with a few moments of comedy to offset the horror. And what a terrifying last act it is. As everything starts to unfold, the audience gains a new appreciation of the rest of the film and starts to reinterpret certain scenes. The only problem is that a few of these scenes only made sense once the film ended. Rather than feeling natural and fitting in as the story progressed, they required the ending to actually make sense.

At 2 hours and 36 minutes, the film is just too long. The middle portion of the film is where this could have been resolved. The shaman had too much screen time performing various rituals that ended up not being very important. There was also a 'zombie' scene that felt awkward and didn't fit in with the rest of the movie. It seemed as though they wanted to put a zombie in the film just because of their growing popularity. This scene also brings in a number of random characters that serve no purpose in the rest of the film.

Despite a few scenes with the previously mentioned overacting, the acting generally speaking is fantastic. The father tasked with solving whatever is happening to his daughter, conveys the terror and hatred he is building up with an intense persona he carries throughout the film. A priest in training who comes in to give advice on what the father should do is equally effective. He brings a concerned and innocent quality to the terror that will ultimately happen. But it is the young daughter who gets sick, that really shines. Channeling her inner Linda Blair, she emphatically delivers horrible, dirty lines that no child should ever say. Her performance is truly terrifying as you watch the hatred in her eyes slowly take over.

As the film comes to an end, the religious overtones become clearer. Locusts attack an individual. White and black are used to suggest character's true nature. And it is in these scenes where the film truly shines. By slowly unveiling the real nature of certain characters, the last 45 minutes of the movie will change your perspective on the whole thing. Every few minutes you will switch sides when trying to determine whom to trust and only when the big reveal comes do you realize how detailed the setup to get there was. The reveal really puts a twist on everything that led up to it and the film ultimately becomes about the horrors of putting your faith in the wrong people.

The Wailing (2016) Directed by: Hong-jin Na Screenplay by: Hong-jin Na Starring: Woo-hee, Jeong-min Hwang, So-yeon Jang, and Do Won Kwak Run Time: 2 hours 36 minutes
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Another horror masterpiece from South Korea
malVV_15 September 2016
I want to start this review with saying that I am not completely against jump scares. They play integral part of horror movies, but when a movie mostly relies on them and is not supported with great story, I am always left displeased. What makes The Wailing so special is that there are almost no jump scares at all in this film. Instead, we, the viewers, are taken through a story rich with mystery, great characters and their struggles, dark atmosphere with well designed and amazingly crafted horror scenes that make your blood run cold. Also, in addition the movie carries a great subtext left for the viewer to question, find evidence and interpret it. You can feel that the director took some time and did some research to give us as much real horror experience as possible. One might find The Wailing a bit boring because the film is a slow burner and not constructed as most of modern horror films, or might find the film too long (running time 2h 36min) but if you are patient man it will pay off by the end.

Who says that the horror genre is dead. You just have to look beyond those cash grab mainstream horror films with wide releases and you might find some hidden gems.
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One hell of a ride
kuronox1 October 2016
This movie was a hell of a ride. About 40 minutes into the movie, I stopped to look at how much time was left and was actually RELIEVED to see that there was still so much left. That's how engaging and interesting the story was for me.

Before watching the movie I read one review on here that said it was a "smorgasbord" of genres (it was a positive review), but it doesn't really feel like it. I mean, yes, I can see it, but the storytelling is so fluid and well written that the multiple genre aspects didn't feel out of place at all. It works. It works so well that I almost feel like it's redundant to point out that there are "so many genres."

I found the second half of this movie quite similar to The Witch. Not necessarily in terms of the storyline, but the pace, the severity, the terror. Both movies are quite psychological. But The Wailing delivers somewhat of a more complex storyline.

Cinematography was breathtaking. Jun Kunimura was ridiculous (in an oh-so-good way). All the actors were on point. I'm not going to point out or mention "Asian horror" here (although, technically I just did I guess, lol). I just don't think that it's necessary to pigeonhole this movie into anything other than what it is; a great horror.
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An accomplished occult thriller too open-ended for its own good
kjihwan17 September 2016
Director Na, Hong-jin catapulted himself into the Korean directing elite with his much lauded debut movie, The Chaser, back in 2008. His follow-up, The Yellow Sea, received more tepid response, but there was little doubt that here was a movie-maker who had the potential to be spoken of in the same sentence as Bong Joon-ho and Park Chan-wook. His latest, The Wailing, starts with more than a passing resemblance to Bong's masterpiece, Memories of Murder. There's a series of grisly, unexplained murders in a backward-looking (although in The Wailing's case contemporary) countryside, which is then investigated by ordinary cops – more put-upon locals in uniform than law enforcers – increasingly out of their depth. What appears first as simple murders of passion begins to spread across the village, while an increasing number of people fall victim to a violent – and violence-inducing – fever, including the young daughter of one of the policemen on the case, Jong- gu. A portly every-man and a doting father, he is bewildered by the severity of the crimes (especially so in a hitherto tranquil countryside) and heart-broken by his daughter's sudden affliction. Desperate to find a cure, Jong-gu (played by Kwak, Do-won, a Na alumnus from Yellow Sea) and his friends latch onto the fact that the fever seemingly started after an unknown Japanese man appeared in the area. The more they delve into the stranger (Jun Kunimura, best known for getting decapitated by Lucy Liu in Kill Bill), the more Jong-gu realizes that the situation may belong more in the realms of the unnatural. Enlisting the help of a charismatic shaman, Jong-gu goes to the extremes to find a solution. Fittingly for the fishing motif that's so prevalent in the film, however, the more he bites at the problem, the more he seems to be ensnared.

It's been a while since a Korean film had this kind of craftsmanship and artistic control to match its ambition. In many ways The Wailing is the true successor to the class of 2003 – when A Tale of Two Sisters and Oldboy as well as the aforementioned Memories of Murder were released – with how confidently the visuals are displayed, the themes are interwoven, and the story unfolds. The forebodingly beautiful cinematography nods at Kubrick, the acting is exemplary (including a worryingly remarkable turn from the child actress Kim, Hwan-hee as Jong-gu's daughter), and most of all the atmosphere of escalating horror that Na captures is impressively unsavoury indeed. The film is a bold departure (or throwback, depending on how you look at it) for Korean cinema in its heavy emphasis on the occult, a theme more associated in the country with the well-worn moralism of its ghost stories and the oft-parodied rituals of harlequin-esque shamans. At well over two and a half hours, The Wailing is a hefty movie, but with its potent mixture of procedural mystery, black comedy and a prevailing sense of dread, it commands attention masterfully for much of the duration.

The one drawback for the film is a significant one that takes the shine off what could otherwise have been a landmark movie. During the course of the film Na throws a number of questions and macguffins up in the air. Who or what is causing the fever? Can the shaman be trusted? Is the Japanese stranger a victim of xenophobia? Who is the nameless girl always hovering around the crime scenes? Or is it all just collective hallucination caused by bad mushrooms? The Wailing takes its twists and turns, apparently answering the questions and overturning expectations. But then it keeps going, reopening closed plot strands and even downright contradicting itself on occasions. It soon becomes apparent that Na isn't so much interested in telling a self-contained story than an exercise in audience-baiting. All of the elements in the film which were so compelling and enjoyable are not allowed to coalesce together in the end, and the actions and motives of the major characters – the Japanese man, Jong-gu and his daughter, the shaman, the nameless girl – are ultimately rendered disparate, abstract and illogical. The ending is neither closed nor open-ended, but rather wilfully indeterminate, and it's tempting to think that Na is applying the film's fishing motif to the audience. Whether it's an appropriately auteur thing to do, or a self-defeating display of directorial indulgence, is perhaps best left to the individual viewer to decide.
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A Smorgasbord of Many Genres and Near un-Killable Zombies
ctowyi31 July 2016
SPOILER: This review is extremely difficult to pen without dropping spoilers, but I am going to try...

Na Hong-jin's The Chaser (2008) audaciously broke one of cinema's golden rules to heartbreaking effect. His sophomore effort The Yellow Sea (2010) is a pulsating rush of blood and bone. 6 years later comes The Wailing, a gruesome blend of different genres and it is near impossible to pigeonhole. Na Hong-jin has graduated to a whole new level with The Wailing, a smorgasbord of investigative procedural, humour, horror, supernatural, family drama, and near un-killable zombies.

Whether you are the filmmaker or the viewer, it can be really hard to start a film. No one sitting in the pitch-black cinema is your friend yet and the beginning of any film always feels like a forced act of intimacy for the viewer. A hooker can help. No, I don't mean a prostitute but a good first scene 😬. The Wailing opens with a verse from the Bible, Luke 24:38-39 and cuts to a scene of a forlorn man double hooking a worm before fishing from a boulder. The scene is beguiling, laden with an atmosphere of dread and your consciousness will immediately lock in the little noggin of information that his unusual act has a higher purpose. Two and a half hours later and after a post-movie long table discussion with 13 other animated persons and more than a day of further discussion on a WhatsApp chat group, I am wiser. The first scene of The Wailing is a blue-ribbon winner and so it goes for the rest of the film.

The big story is easy - a Japanese stranger (Jun Kunimura) arrives in a little village and soon a mysterious sickness starts to spread. Grisly murders ensue and a strange young woman (Chun Woo-Hee) and a bombastic shaman (Hwang Jung-Min) enter into the fray. A bumbling and lazy policeman (Kwak Do Won) is drawn in and he has to get to the crux of the mystery in order to save his daughter. It is the intricate workings of the plot that needs a lot of unpacking. Forget about the age-old Hollywood adage that a good film has a plot that is easily summarised. The last time I had so much fun dismantling and assembling back a movie was Inception!

The Wailing is a stupendous and sustained piece of masterful storytelling. It is loaded with frightful incidents and stuffed with mystifying characters. On top of that, it is genuinely terrifying as it preys on the goodness of ordinary people. God has seemingly excused Himself from the battleground as can be gleaned from a scene in which the church says it will not lift a finger to help. The story is compelling and riveting, and every twist, turn and outcome totally earned. The movie has a punishing runtime of 156 minutes not because of poor pacing, but because of the intricacies of the plot. There are plenty of bloody scenes for the gore-hounds but they are never ladled out to pump up a sagging plot. The plot never sags, not even for one instance. Na's use of music and sounds to heighten the suspense is brilliant. From plaintive tonal chords in the beginning to a full-blown thunderous "tong tong qiang" exorcism ritual, everything adds to the atmosphere of doom. Na has also achieved such sublime tonal shifts that I didn't even notice where I went from laughing out loud to pure heart-parked-in-my-mouth terror. The film is suffused with motifs, religious overtones and thematically rich. Even an innocuous scene of a young woman throwing stones has biblical weight. The storytelling is powerful and the twists perfectly angled into the story. So many times I had that "aha" feeling that told me I had the mystery figured out and the motivations of the characters down pat. But on hindsight, I realised the only thing I had figured out early is that this is one incredibly thought provoking piece of filmmaking. The Wailing practically roars through the final act delivering all manners of monstrosity and heartbreaking sadness with aplomb. The movie is long and rich, multilayered and satisfying. Prepare to be toyed, skewered, gutted, stabbed and get ready to be played like a violin.

I know this review is rubbish and ladened with hyperboles, but I did not exaggerate or embellish, and I did you a huge favour by remaining vague with the plot. Believe me, it is extremely hard for me to do that. I know good films when I see them. It is the great ones that are not easy to decide on. The Wailing is not a great film in the strictest sense but it earns its place on a shelf of illustrious films that invite so many good debates with like- minded minds. These are films that are impossible for you to stay shut-up and have everything explained in a few by-lines. These are films that will never leave your head long after they are done, and when you least expect it the tendrils of the narrative will rise up and wrap around your consciousness like tentacles. There are not many films on this particular shelf and all of them have become classics. I do not use the word "classic" lightly, but I believe The Wailing may well prove to be one. You know how I know? The movie left more questions than answers in my mind, but yet it was never a frustrating cinematic experience. It is such a wonderful mindfcuk! The year is not over yet, but I have a feeling I will not see another film of this caliber. Films of this type are rare and such superb rare films wail out to be watched and experienced. Experience this.
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very few movies have shaken me from deep inside
jon_barfila11 July 2016
This will be the first review i'm writing, Because i'm enthralled by this piece of art. Gokseong is directed by Hong-jin Na who previously have made very fine movies like yellow sea and chaser. But the setting of this movie is different from those movies, It kind of felt like Memories of Murder in darker tone. This is the story of a village, where people are suffering from a mysterious diseases which seems like some kind of virus and this ends up killing them, and in the middle of somewhere a Japanese stranger seems to be involved in this. Now, i'm not going to say more than that about the story , and i suggest you to not watch the trailer which doesn't do justice to the movie and stay away from any possible spoiler. It is one of the best horror movies i have seen in long time, it doesn't have jump scares. But what this movie does, it slowly grows on you, you will be confused, conflicted, disgusted while watching this. Somewhere you will make a choice, a perspective to the way things are going and possibly will be wrong. So i strongly suggest you to watch this movie if possible in a secluded environment and if possible alone. P.S.- It has the what i think is the best exorcism scene shown in any movie.
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Another Great Korean Film from the Great Director!!
aPillar7 June 2016
Wow, it was one of the greatest movies I've seen in years. It gave me chills and maintained it all along for the two hours and thirty minutes - I don't even remember how the time passed! I didn't expect to see this low rating (7.X is a bit lower than I expected). However, it is not surprising to see there is also a negative review. If you are a movie-goer who needs to clarify every movie under a single genre and doesn't like to think but just like to see the clear start-clear ending, this is not the movie for you. But if you like to think and love to find/collect evidences to think ahead and derive the director's intentions and if you want to see a new occult movie, this is the movie for you. If you pay attention, things would lead you to the right direction and that is the beauty of the movie!! Another masterpiece from Director Na and I can tell you that this movie is the greatest of all his movies!!
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Underwhelming story and conclusion, genre mish-mash, some good cinematic moments
antiraza31 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I'll provide the dissenting opinion here.

(Spoilers follow, because I'm not sure how to articulate my dissatisfaction without talking about the story.)

I was a big fan of The Chaser, and went in with high expectations.

At the end of this experience, I'm left with many unanswered questions, and not the good kind. Not philosophical questions, not questions about symbolism. Instead, my questions are why we spent so darn long following threads that were ultimately little more than red herrings. Why the first third of the film was just burning time pretending to be a comedy and withholding the main plot? Why did the events in the film happen at all? What was the point of this entire exercise?

This is a whodunit with a dissatisfying who, because we don't have a WHY beyond 'crap happens, evil exists, deal with it.'

There is also a lot of genre confusion, and while other reviewers have labeled this a positive things, to me it just felt like a bunch of stuff tagged on for the sake of being tagged. Is this a possession/exorcism film? A zombie movie? A conspiracy thriller? A murder mystery? A comedy? It pulls from so many of the tropes that at the end of it I feel like I spent more time trying to figure out what film I was watching that just being able to watch the film.

So, a bunch of negative feedback so far, but you'll note I still gave the film a 5/10. Lots of great cinematic moments in here. The locations, design and cinematography are mostly very satisfying. There is one sequence in particular (the major exorcism) that was incredibly compelling. And despite my hate for all the comedy at the beginning of the film being part of the genre noise, it was funny and enjoyable. Also some great performances, in particular from the child actor.

Anyway, if you wanted to watch this film because you were a fan of The Chaser, go right ahead, just temper your expectations.

It doesn't have The Chaser's palpable sense of dread and power. This is not a particularly frightening, emotionally moving or satisfying film, but it's got some good moments that make the experience not a complete waste.
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Mix of every genre buy perfect
coldman-7009911 May 2016
I remember that I had a gut(Korean traditional exorcism by mudang like shaman) when I was 13. Back then, I was the most weakest student in my class. So my grandma always worried about my health and I met mudang with my grandma. After finishing ceremony, I got to her house by old truck. she said " Don't look back" "If you look back, bad spirits follow us and it will be harmful to us".and then I closed my eyes tightly until I got to her house.Because It was so sacred.

In a word about this movie, It feels like I looked back even if my grandma warned me.

That's all I can't say anymore.

You can find every good perspective of Korean movies. Moreover, You can taste a lot of texture of flavor such as Comedy, Horror(Exorcism,Gore,Traditional),philosophy(Religion, identity,suspicion),thriller. This movie is so ambitious. but It is very successful.

If you are interested in this movie, You should watch Bulshinjiok( before this movie. It will be helpful to understand Korean traditional ceremony and shamanism also you can see improvements of Korean movie.
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Impressive build up to...
heath-jeffrey30 July 2016
I'm not going to mention any specifics about the plot or characters at all, but I do discuss the general orientation of the ending. (ie. Stop reading if you think general might still be spoiling).

I so much want to give this movie an 8 or 9 out of 10. The acting was strong (especially from the child actor); the scenery and both overall setting and specific settings for particular scenes helped set just the right mood at the right time; there was a good dip into traditional local customs; and running alongside the plot were several themes related to important social and moral concerns (racism being the biggest one). A powerful combination.

But, what really caught me and held me throughout the movie was the mystery. Multiple characters and events would lead you to suspect the antagonist was a particular person or thing, just before something lead you in a different direction. At many points, you have two or more suspicions and are just waiting to confirm which is right. Thoroughly engaging despite the length of the movie.

And then, in the last 5-10 minutes, when you are waiting for all the strings to pull together... waiting for that 'aha' moment... waiting for the climax...

Nothing really happens. You're left with a vague ending; half your suspicions thrown to the wind, rather than tidied up; and some extra strings (most of which don't fit with the rest of the plot) tossed on top just to keep you more confused. What was 95% a highly intriguing thriller/mystery of a horror story, died a horrible death in the 5% art-house that was the ending.

Ultimately, a terrible movie that I could not recommend to anyone.
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Wailing, wailing, wailing
risingapple11 July 2016
After reading all the rave reviews I was pretty excited to watch this movie(and because of the excellent previous movies by this director). After 45 minutes I couldn't take it anymore, but since I invested my time in it already, I stupidly kept on watching.

It is supposed to be scary, but I did not know if they wanted this to be funny or something. I understand the title, most of the time there is people wailing in this movie, annoyingly loud, and this to have a scary effect. I can keep on going on how bad this movie is compared to the reviews you read here, but then I waste even more time on this garbage.

By the way, are the police in Korea all morons, who scream like little children and run away when they see people make scary noises?? It was not even comical to watch
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Red_Identity6 January 2017
I expected this to be a slow pace,d very atmospheric horror film. Instead, I was surprised by how crazy and intense it is. It never really allows you to completely wrap your head around it because it is constantly pulling the rug from under you. The cast does a great job from verging in both drama, horror, and even comedy, which the film is able to balance with the other genres very well, for the most part. Because of that the film sometimes feels a little messy and a little jumbled in its very ambitious aims, and as a result it suffers. I wouldn't call it a great film, but I do recommend it simply for the sheer effort and ambition on display here. Certainly a horror film to remember.
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This will go down as ONE OF THE BEST HORROR FLICKS of all time
myc497113 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I can't stop thinking about this movie and it's been 24 hours since I've seen it. I find myself replaying the movie in my head over and over. I find myself reflecting on the themes that it tries to bring to the surface.

Easily, this goes down as one of the best horror movies I've watched. On the second thought, it's one of the best movies I had the pleasure of watching! It's smart, it's clever and it's beautiful! Words that you won't actually use to describe typical horror movies. What makes "GOKSUNG" transcend its genre is that it has so many layers but each one is as potent as the other. Like an onion, some audience will walk away only having seen the outer layer but would feel as satisfied as the next audience who was able to see through all its layers.

I was taken aback when I read the message boards and reviews where critics and moviegoers weren't actually too sure if they understood the movie correctly. I've read reviews where they view the film as a social commentary between the divide between Japanese and Koreans, others view the film as a genuinely creepy horror movie, others view it from the tragedy that it is, others saw it as a spiritual exploration. And I was thoroughly surprised by this because I didn't see the ending as an abstract one. To me, it left very little to the interpretation.

But to better understand this, I had to search through interviews of the director (Hong Jin Na) on what he wants the viewers to take away with them. It helped a lot how the film came to be. He started writing the script of the movie when a series of deaths started happening to his friends/family members. Though he didn't elaborate, he termed the deaths as "unnatural" which leaves me to think they were murdered. Grieved with the loss of his friends, he started asking "why them?". It brought him to a journey asking different religions to somehow demystify it. This movie was a result of that exploration.

In some ways, the movie tries to answer that. Jong Goo, the "hero" of the movie, asked the same question several times but there's really no special reason behind it. The stranger did not choose them, it just so happened his daughter took the bait (now think back to the first frame of the movie where the stranger was seen fishing, putting a bait on the hook… brilliant!) We often try to search for a deeper meaning into bad things that happens to us. To devout catholics, it's the guilt that it's punishment for sins we have committed. But in the end, we really don't have anyone but to blame but ourselves. It is within our will not to give in to the temptation/bait… but sometimes we just do because we don't see through the events that will be set in motion. We often times act in haste thinking our actions doesn't have consequences.

The movie forces us to evaluate who brings unspeakable tragedies into this world. Should we blame the devil for laying down the trap? Or should we blame ourselves for being too blind to see it? I think this point was the one that resonated with me: people in this day and age have become desensitized with evil that we rarely think that the devil is real in a physical sense. There's that unbelief in the supernatural that it has no place in our reality. Just like Jong Goo who had heard of (he charged it to village rumours) and seen the Devil (he thought he was a serial killer, nothing more) before but never really understood what he was up against. Several times, he was also given a warning… to stay away from the tragic path he was walking into (through his dreams and the most blatant one, to wait for the third crow of the roosters) but alas, Jong Goo relied on what was logical in our reality. It's more logical and easier to believe that our nightmares can never happen in the real world. It's more logical to rush back home when your family is in danger. It's more logical to believe in a religious figure (priest/shaman) than a woman you suspect is a ghost. And that same unbelief is the very tool that the devil uses against us.

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." --- The Usual Suspects

This movie is loaded with symbolisms, parallels and commentaries but never once did it hinder the narrative. It even enriched the movie, making three hours seem like two! The director's control over the whole movie is just masterful. To achieve a tonal balance between humour and horror is an achievement by itself but add to that, a movie that works on so many levels… this movie is a master filmmaker who understands how to "talk" to his audience, what buttons to push to make them think and to make them feel.

Hong Jin Na leaves the audience with this: Whatever ideas come to you while you watch the film, they're yours. I want this film to be your own. On the other hand, there is one thing I wish everyone who watches this film to feel, regardless of who they are: a condolence for those who disappeared after having fallen as victims of the world. And for those who are left behind, I sincerely wish this film gives you some time for condolences.
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Uniquely terrifying movie
versandeep21 November 2017
Horror is the least preferred genre for me, as most of them revolves around same story lines and forced " jumpy " moments, so this is perhaps my very few amongst the horror flicks for which I am motivated to write a small review because of its awesomeness. The tension that builds in this movie is really terrifying and will stick with you for a while. I literally had a nightmare the same night after watching this movie; such was its effect. I think, the emotional struggle of a father and the sheer determination to fight the odds to help his child was captured beautifully. Also, there is a certain intangible weirdness in this movie that makes it really unique, served with some brilliant acting. I recommend everyone to stay away from the spoilers and just watch the movie. It is hell of a ride if you allow yourself submerge into the plot.

Another masterpiece from Korean cinema. A must watch for horror fans.
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It must be the "Jap" that's causing it!
mark-hall416 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The little girl was very good in this movie, the locations and cinematography were very pleasant and atmospheric, plus the makeup effects were very high quality. There are a few issues however. The first issue is the blatant racism. The "Jap" who lives near the village is insinuated as the cause of the horrific scenes unfolding before the villagers; No particular reason why this is so; it's just that he's a Japanese man- (who apparently turns out to be the devil... I think), and that's good enough reason thank you very much! Next, after what felt like 2 hours already, we are led to believe it wasn't the "Jap", but some girl... for some reason. But then after another 50 minutes it wasn't her, but the "Jap" anyway.. for no particular reason. By this point he turns into the devil... I assume he was- my brain was numb by this point, so I was eyeing the exit sign mostly. Basically it is way, way, way too long.

Lastly, why do the characters treat each over so poorly? Almost every line in this is an aggressive bark. It's basically like "pass me the salt and pepper as***le! the whole way through. But's it's not just the men, it's the grannies, wives and children all getting in on the action in an unrelenting barrage of sh**ty attitudes. It's very unpleasant to watch for 2 and a half hours. Like I mentioned, the young actor was very, very impressive as the exorcist style demonic possessed little girl- but with everyone around her acting like complete pricks the whole movie, it's not as effective as the original. All up, not a bad movie- ambitious and effective at key points, but I would have preferred to watch this in 2 or 3 sittings on DVD, and preferably with a couple of paracetamols on hand. Maybe I'm too sensitive.
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Screaming Cops
ensureshake9 September 2016
Two cops who act like scared high school kids. They run around a lot and scream. After that, I couldn't take anything this movie had serious. Maybe it is a comedy and I missed the whole premise. If this was made as some serious drama or horror movie I can't understand why they would have the police who are central characters act like teenage girls in a Friday 13th movie.

The scenes that are made to be a suspenseful fail because of the sissy behavior of our hero cops. When our police are faced with danger you might expect a weapon to be drawn certainly not the reactions we are presented with. Screaming, running away, tripping and falling down. How can you not be confused
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One of the most significant movies within the genre in recent years!
Vikingbyheart21 October 2016
Goksung (original title) or The Wailing (English title), the new film from South Korean director and writer Hong-jin Na (known for Chugyeogja - Chaser - 2008 and Hwanghae - The Yellow Sea - 2010), is already considered one of the great works in the horror genre, addressing a macabre part of eastern culture on legends, curses, evil spirits and mysticism, being one of the highlights at the Cannes Film Festival.

Coincidentally after the arrival of a stranger, a strange disease begins to spread in the small village of Goksung, triggering a series of brutal murders. What at first appears to be only crimes of passion just takes darker contours, since all deaths occur in mysterious circumstances. In charge of the investigation, the police officer Jong-Goo (played by Do Won Kwak, known for Ajeossi - The Man From Nowhere - 2010) searches for clues and explanations to the tragic events. When his daughter, Hyo-jin (played by Kim Hwan-hee), begins to feel the strange symptoms of the disease, he has to fight against time to solve the mysterious case and save her life.

With a rhythmic narrative, The Wailing presents a folk story associated with Eastern mysticism and also the occultism, marked by elements of mystery, horror and supernatural, as guardians, demons and shamans, and the unfolding of the plot gradually gets more intense and disquieting contours. The technical quality is one aspect that stands out in the movie. The picture and the soundtrack provide an immersive and engaging combination as ambiance, expressed by constant rain, the mud, the precariousness of the small village, the striking features of a small town, as well as makeup and massacre scenarios, consolidate the mystical and eerie atmosphere of the film, expanding the mystery and holding the viewer's attention.

The script plays well with expectations, building some characters in a dubious way, without specifying their actual intentions. A relatively simple story is presented in a complex and intriguing way, where apparently scenes with no great purpose show us much, requiring attention to small details, whether occult symbols or religious references (Biblical). Crows and goat's head are used throughout the narrative, symbolizing death and evil omen and referring to the profane and witchcraft.

The film manages to build an atmosphere of terror without abusing the typical genre tricks. The moments of humor are used to softer the approach of a subject that in itself is already quite tense. Here it is worth mentioning the great performance of Do Won Kwak in the caricatured role of the lazy, fumbling and fearful police officer, though well intentioned.

With a competent job of the cast, efficient direction creating an atmosphere that blends mystery, horror and comedy as well as providing much reflection with an end open to different interpretations and also for its originality, The Wailing is one of the most significant movies within the genre in recent years.
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A Truly Scary Tour De Force
aharmas5 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Gems like these are truly hard to find, and I'm glad we live in an age where we have the opportunity to catch them in specialty cinemas because it would be terrible to see them in the small screen. It's a Korean film, with some terrific acting and some of the best effects I have seen recently, but what elevates the movie to a special level is its theme and its execution. It is based on popular concepts, yet it will keep you guessing until the very end. It's a tale that will teach you, entertain you, and most definitely scary. It's a thriller with plenty of muscle and heart.

The waiting takes you on a long and torturous trip through hell, where a father does whatever he has to do to help his town and ultimately, his daughter. It moves fast and doesn't hold back in showing what begins as the work if a maniac, serial killer, and turns into a mysterious murder mystery with supernatural overtones.

The film never falters, even with a brief inclusion of zombies, which I figure is part of the writer's desire to be pretty inclusive in matters if the difference manifestations of good and evil. One will never experience anything but a sense of impending threat and doom. Some members in the audience might feel it's too much but it's all justifiable.

It runs over 2.5 hours and one leaves the theater wishing there was more to explain. This would devaluate from the experience because one of the film objectives is to make think the audience go back and look at the clues and turning points, to look into one's own sense of values and want to go back to look at some references upon which the script builds.

Rum and see it. A classic has been born.
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Straightforward horror flick that tries to be more...
lyx-128 August 2016
I loved The Chaser, The Yellow Sea and of course Memories of Murder and while Horror isn't really my genre I'm willing to go on a hell-raising roller-coaster ride to unravel the frightening intrigues that this film promises.

From all the reviews, the forum discussing what really happened, YouTube "spoiler" videos clarifying the loose ends and the chatter in the cinema when the credits start to roll, it is quite clear that the audience are mostly left greatly mystified rather than delivered by a well-resolved end moment when pieces of the puzzle start to fall together in a satisfying manner.

Fans of mystery understand the need for red herrings, unexplained characters and details that throw the scent off and suggest multiple possibilities, but in this movie, they remain glaring plot holes and still don't make sense even by the end when the answer to the mystery is all but apparent. Herrings? More like leads down the garden, or rather, mountain path...

It is especially frustrating as the movie is long, there's little build-up to the horrors, few techniques that could be effective in moving the story-telling along were used and the terrifying moments become repetitious and drawn-out. Many of these repetitious scenes could have been cut to focus instead on the background to some of the key characters, not only to increase audience understanding of the families, the cultural context, religious beliefs and superstitions but to help to make the final conclusions comprehensible in flashback....that "oh I missed that bit about character X, it explains why things turn out this way, etc." moment.

Acting was really good, which is the high point of the movie for me.That's what the 5 is for.

Shame the talent wasn't put to more effective use, as the story has great potential.
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Long, Melodramatic and Messy Ghost Story
claudio_carvalho14 December 2016
In the small village Goksung in South Korea, police officer Jong-Goo (Do Won Kwak) investigates bizarre murders caused by a mysterious disease. His partner tells a gossip for him that a Japanese stranger (Jun Kunimura) that lives in a secluded house in the mountains would be an evil spirit responsible for the illness. Jong-Goo decides to visit the Japanese with his partner and a young priest that speaks Japanese. They find an altar with a goat head and pictures of the infected people that died on the walls. However they are attacked by the guard dog and they only can leave the place when the stranger arrives. Jong-Goo finds one shoe of his beloved daughter Hyo-jin (Hwan-hee Kim) in the house of the stranger and soon she becomes sick. His mother-in-law summons the shaman Il-gwang (Jung-min Hwang) to save her granddaughter while a mysterious woman tells Jong-Goo that the stranger is the responsible. Who might be the demon that is bringing sickness to Goksung?

"Goksung" is South Korean horror movie with a long, melodramatic and messy ghost story. Despite the promising and original premise, the screenplay is confused and maybe the translation is not totally correct. Or maybe the situations make sense in accordance with the South Korean culture. The conclusion is confused and it seems that Goksung is under attack of demons that wins the battle. My vote is five.

Title (Brazil): Not Available
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Ambitious, but scattered in terms of focus.
azey1330 December 2016
The Wailing was an excellent effort and I badly wanted to enjoy it given the way critics have been raving. Instead, it left me frustrated and praying for the end credits repeatedly.

I sort of liked the ending and the atmosphere of the film was fantastic, but overall it fell short of being truly enjoyable. I saw it twice in order to understand what spoiled the experience for me, and upon contemplation I think it was because the film, overall, lacked focus. I don't think we needed to sit through two and a half hours of it in order to reach the conclusion that it did, particularly since there are still a number of things in the film which do not add up by the time it ends. I feel like the editing -- in terms of tightening the storyline -- could have been much better. Atmosphere is an important aspect of any horror film, but you don't need two and a half hours to build it and the flow of the story should never be compromised. Moreover, great atmosphere is pointless if you don't actually do anything with it, and this film didn't -- at least not until the last fifteen minutes or so.

Another thing that made it difficult to sit through once (and nearly unbearable to sit through a second time) was the lack of a "good" character whom I truly liked. I know that it's a thing to be annoyed with some characters in a horror movie ("Too Stupid To Live" is a trope for a reason), but this is the first film where I actively cheered for the evil side to win before the end. I don't want to give anything away, because I do think that this is a film that should be seen (especially since my opinion of it appears to be an outlier), but do prepare yourself to be completely aggravated by the characters' behavior in this film. If that was what the director was going for, then well done.
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A Diabolical Work Of Mythic Weirdness That's Drenched In Blood, Sickness & Devilry
CinemaClown26 January 2017
After catapulting himself into the league of South Korea's brightest up-n-coming filmmakers with his extremely polished & mercilessly violent directional debut and then following it up with another thriller that was more or less a misfire, director Na Hong-jin makes a splendid return to form after six years of inactivity, and delivers a cinema that's drenched in blood, sickness & devilry.

The story of The Wailing unfolds in a small South Korean village where a mysterious illness begins to spread & claim many lives after the arrival of a strange Japanese man in the nearby mountains. Investigating the case is a police officer who becomes all the more involved after his own daughter begins exhibiting similar symptoms and enlists the help of a shaman to solve the mystery before its too late.

Written & directed by Na Hong-jin, The Wailing finds the budding filmmaker stepping into the realms of supernatural horror and features numerous elements that made his first film an instant classic. It is a considerable improvement over Hong-jin's previous film, plus his direction exhibits more confidence & comfort this time. The script is just as impressive although it still could've used a bit more refinement.

The film doesn't hold back on violence & gore and keeps the element of doubt alive until the very end. Also admirable is how successfully it manages to force its viewers to switch their allegiance from time to time and keeps them in the dark throughout its runtime. Humour is brilliantly utilised whenever it's required but the tone is grim for the most part and only intensifies as the plot nears its conclusion.

The technical aspects are finely executed. The rural setting & isolated surroundings provide a big enough canvas for the horror to play out. Camera-work is expertly carried out, filming each n every moment in fine detail. Editing is definitely a highlight, given the unpredictable nature of its plot in addition to unforeseen twists n turns, and despite its 156 minutes runtime, it is never boring and is actually cleverly paced from beginning to end.

Coming to the performances, the entire cast chips in with apt contributions in their given roles and play their part responsibly. Kwak Do-won plays the police officer investigating the mystery illness & killings and although a comic relief at first, he wises up as the plot progresses. Hwang Jung-min is in as a shaman and goes bonkers with his role. But the two most measured inputs comes from Jun Kunimura & Chin Woo-hee who play the Japanese stranger & a mysterious woman respectively.

On an overall scale, The Wailing is a fresh, fascinating & ferocious entry in the world of horror that makes terrific use of its atmosphere & supernatural elements to deliver a thoroughly unsettling & consistently engaging experience. There are, however, times when it may leave you a little lost or unsure of what's happening but the interest is never lost for once and only gains momentum as it heads towards its long-awaited finale. A work of mythic weirdness that's diabolical in every sense of the word, The Wailing comes highly recommended.
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It will haunt your soul long after you've walked out of the theater
neyoless31 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
If "The Chaser" and "The Yellow Sea" have not solidified Na as one of the best Korean filmmakers of this generation, his third feature has certainly done so. "The Wailing" is a cinematic masterpiece in every sense and it will haunt your soul long after you've walked out of the theater.

While it pays homage to "The Exorcist" in many ways, this is no horror film, and in fact, it is unlike any film I've ever seen. The once familiar clichés turn against you. The cultural and spiritual elements add a distinct Korean flavor. The film is completely absent of jump scares and instead, opts to draw out tension in what feels to be a very short two-and-a-half hour experience. Credit goes to the clever editing as I often found myself mind-blown during scene transitions, and craving more pieces to put together in this complex puzzle of a plot. While there's a lot going on here, it's hard to miss the visceral images that are given such detail, and it helps that every plant has a payoff.

The performers have a lot of range, from tacit facial expressions to downright melodramatic wailing. Child actor Kim Hwan-hee stands out even among a veteran ensemble cast that includes Hwang Jung-min and Jun Kunimura. Na is often criticized for stoic machismo, but these characters are dynamic; the protagonists increasingly vulnerable, and the antagonists all the more menacing.

When the credits rolled, I could not get up. And when my legs could hold me again, I found myself coming back to the theater. There is a sick appeal to this emotional and physical torment, so enjoy it twice, maybe three times, or even more.

Many people were left with questions by the end. After many subsequent viewings, I simply say: you see what you want to see.
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