Cannes Film Review: ‘The Wailing’—Brutishly Intense And Yet Deeply Emotional


The Wailing
The Wailing

If you’ve ever considered supernatural stories a little lame and passé in contemporary cinema direction, then perhaps you are yet to see South Korean director-Na Hong-jin’s ‘The Wailing’—an incredibly brilliant mystery thriller which succeeds in lacing horror with comedy and strikes deep emotional cords on the back of a seemingly over exploited theme.
Beyond the fact that the film ends on a vague note and lacks any sort of logical consistency, Na Hong-jin’s brilliance in storytelling takes charge of what would fairly be a predictable narrative, and cleverly box it in an unending suspense, twist and nerve-racking gore which doesn’t just keep the audience boldly shaking, but intensely glued.
Per modern expectations, a dive into the world of demons mostly would come off as an attack but Na Hong-jin steers far away from an assault, and rather explores the spiritual world, clashing the strength of opposing and not so well defined mystical units with a small village and a household serving as the unfortunate battle ground.
It’s mainly over two and half-hours of blood oozing from the nose and mouths of characters, subtly balanced with effortless comedy from the film’s lead- Sgt. Jeon Jong-gu (played by Kwak Do-won) and sometimes, his beloved and adorable daughter-Hyo-jin ( played by Kim Hwan-hee).
The horror takes off when Sgt. Jeon Jong-gu and his unit were called to a village house, where a man had brutishly stabbed his wife and children to death with blood all over the floor as much as on him—his creepy bloodshot eyes could not be missed, and his body was decorated with strange boils.
The obviously shocking family massacre soon became a rampant occurrence, with series of similar cruel killings turning the village into not just a wailing yard, but a screaming and a dangerous locale—with widespread panic on the back of rumours that a middle-aged Japanese man (played by Jun Kunimura) was the person spiritually behind the killings.
The Wailing
The Wailing

In fact, the suspicion wasn’t just rumour-based, a young woman-Moo-myeong (played by Chun Woo-hee) predicted an imminent doom to befall the village and linked it to him—and a yokel was adamant he also saw him strangely eating raw blooded meat.

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