The Wailing

Director: Hong-Jin Na
Starring: Do Won Kwak, Jun Kunimura & Jung-min Hwang
Synopsis: 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.
Rating: 15 Duration: 156 minutes Release date: 30 January (UK)

Like some twisted version of Fargo, The Wailing is a bleak, humorous horror set in a small Korean town full of urban legends, religion and a farcical local police force. Led by Jong-Goo’s (Do Wan Kwak) error strewn police officer, this small community must come to face a sickness that starts with a severe rash and then turns into a violent, bloody slaughter as the villagers consume each other. In the midst of all this is a Japanese traveller, unfamiliar to the village and who many believe has brought the sickness with him.


For those unfamiliar with South Korean horror films, now would be an excellent time to start checking out the genre. Unbridled by the Hollywood studio system looking for jump-scares and teen friendly ratings, South Korea cinema has a freedom to tell its stories as the director wishes it with a real focus on allowing their films to be as horrific as possible. That’s not to say that their films go for all-out gore in favour of anything else, but when they want to bring the scares they do so in way that is so vivid and raw that it stays with you long after you’ve watched the film.

Disturbing in its sincerity, The Wailing presents the horrific nature of its events in an all too real sense. Do Wan Kwak’s police officer stumbles through each scene with all the sense of a man who has grown too comfortable with his life; he receives an emergency call about a gruesome murder, but is easily persuaded to eat a hearty breakfast before attending said emergency. He brings a heart to the film, drawing the audience slowly into his plight as other vicious murders begin to pop up around his quaint village. And when the supernatural plague takes a hold of his daughter, the tension becomes tangible and the audience suffers just as much the characters do.

Director Hong-Jin Na is in no rush to get going here, and while The Wailing’s two and a half hour run-time may at first seem off-putting, it is in no way felt or makes the audience uncomfortable. The procedural style benefits both the police and horror elements. As Jong-Goo delves deeper into the murders a real sense of dread envelopes the film, making it enthralling yet disturbing with an odd charm that makes it utterly watchable.




  • The Beginning of The Wailing
  • The Making of The Wailing

Film: 5/5
Extras: 2/5


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