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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

The Wailing 2016 Reviewed


Featured Image For The Wailing 2016 Reviewed.   Poster for "The Wailing" featuring a dark and ominous landscape with mountains, a traditional Korean gate, and an eerie blue tone throughout with haunting text.
Darkness descends over the mountains as unspeakable horrors lurk in every shadow. Do you dare to listen to their wails?

The rain falls like a curtain, a veil of grey mist clinging to the damp mountain village. It seems to echo the sobs of villagers, their bodies contorted in seizures, their skin ravaged by a mysterious sickness. There's a stranger at the edge of town, a nameless Japanese man whose presence lingers like a question mark left by a phantom hand. It's a puzzle laid bare, a mosaic of fear and desperation, and at the center stands Jong-gu, a clumsy, bumbling police officer swept up in a tide of horror that threatens to drown him, and perhaps his daughter, too.


Key Takeaways From This Film

  • Ambiguity is terrifying: The film thrives on open-ended questions and a lack of clear resolutions. This persistent uncertainty about what's really happening creates a profound sense of unease that goes deeper than typical horror thrills.

  • Horror can be slow and methodical: "The Wailing" proves that jump-scares aren't the only route to terror. The gradual build-up of dread, sustained over a long runtime, can be even more unsettling and memorable.

  • Atmosphere is everything: The film excels in creating a world where every shadow and whisper seems charged with menace. The rain-soaked rural setting, eerie soundscapes, and lingering shots build a sense of pervasive, inescapable evil.

  • Folklore and the supernatural have enduring power: "The Wailing" draws from shamanism, exorcism rituals, and demonic lore, reminding us that ancient fears and beliefs about the unseen still hold sway over the human psyche.

  • Doubt vs. belief: The film explores the battle between skepticism and faith as villagers and even the protagonist wrestle with conflicting explanations for the horrifying events. This internal conflict adds another layer of psychological terror.

  • Good and evil might not be what you think: "The Wailing" blurs the lines, questioning who or what is truly monstrous. Are they external forces, or demons residing within the characters themselves?

  • Performances matter: The film rests on powerful, nuanced performances that convey the characters' fear, confusion, and potential for darkness, making the horror feel shockingly real.

  • Korean horror is a force to be reckoned with: Director Na Hong-jin's work showcases a level of artistic ambition and psychological depth that elevates the horror genre, joining other Korean masters of suspense and terror.


A woman with a haunted expression watches the Korean horror film, The Wailing.
The line between reality and nightmare blurred with each passing scene, leaving her chilled to the bone.

"The Wailing," the critically acclaimed Korean horror film by director Na Hong-jin, isn't your average jump-scare horror flick. It's a slow-burning descent into madness, a twisting journey where dread coils in your belly long before the first drop of blood stains the screen. Think less of cheap frights and more of an unsettling symphony of unease, the kind that gnaws at the corners of your mind like a relentless echo. It’s a testament to the chilling power of suggestion, and it weaves a spell as potent as any shaman's ritual.


Na, no stranger to tales of darkness and pursuit (remember his hits "The Chaser" and "The Yellow Sea"?), turns the quaint countryside into a sinister dreamscape. Every rustling leaf, every creak of wood, seems to speak a silent language of impending doom. There's a sense that something ancient, something untamed, simmers just beneath the surface of normalcy in the town of Gokseong. He marinates us in an atmosphere so thick with foreboding, you almost find yourself holding your breath.


At the heart of this unsettling puzzle stand the performances. Kwak Do-won as Jong-gu is the portrait of a man out of his depth. He stumbles, he sweats, and his confusion mirrors our own as the plot weaves and unravels. He's less a heroic figure and more a desperate father flailing against the darkness. Hwang Jung-min brings a quiet intensity to Il-gwang, a shaman who is perhaps friend or foe, and whose every word carries the weight of prophecy.


And then there is Chun Woo-hee as the mysterious Moo-myeong, a woman whose ethereal beauty hides a chilling secret. Yet, the true star might just be Kim Hwan-hee, whose portrayal of Jong-gu's daughter, possessed by something malevolent, is both heart-wrenching and utterly terrifying.


"The Wailing" is not a film for the impatient. It demands you sit with its ambiguity, with its unanswered questions. Clocking in at a hefty 156 minutes, it takes its sweet time, and like those eerie mountain roads it winds through, it leads you in circles before revealing its destination. Some call this meandering, frustrating, or even pretentious. But I call it daring. It's a challenge to lean into the bewilderment, and let the film work on you like a fever dream you can't quite shake.


A man stares at the screen, his brow furrowed in fearful concentration as he watches The Wailing.
The creeping dread wasn't just on the screen anymore; it had seeped into the room, twisting his gut with unease.

The Terror Of A Korean Mystery

The film draws on a rich tapestry of influences. There's police procedural, body horror, folklore, and even hints of dark comedy. And of course, you can't talk about Korean horror without the looming presence of those titans of the genre - Bong Joon-ho's "Memories of Murder," Park Chan-wook's twisted tales. These are masters of tension and misdirection, of shattering normalcy with unnerving violence. Na's film walks on the path they carved, but it carves its own terrifying niche as well.


To call "The Wailing" merely a horror movie would be a disservice. It's an exploration of doubt, of faith corrupted, of the thin veil between good and evil. Is the Japanese man who lives alone in the woods truly a demon in human flesh as the villagers believe? Can the extravagant rituals of the shaman ward off the encroaching darkness? Or is this all a tragic case of mass hysteria, where superstition takes the reins and leads the town down a road of irreversible horror? Na doesn't hand you the answers; he makes you squirm, grapple with the shadows, and question your own convictions.


And yes, there is gore. When it arrives, it hits like a bucket of icy water. It's not gratuitous, but it serves its purpose of yanking you back from the cerebral and shoving you into the realm of the visceral. The film leaves you raw, skinless, and wondering if the true monsters walk among us, or dwell within the depths of our own hearts.


"The Wailing" is a film that stays with you, its ending a haunting question mark that lingers like a chill long after the credits roll. It's a cinematic experience that defies easy categorization and demands that you, the viewer, participate actively in its unsettling universe. Do you have the courage to stare into the abyss?


And that is The Wailing 2016 Reviewed.  Another International Modern Horror Movie that still terrifies till this day. 


Stay tuned for more Horror Movie Reviews


If You Liked The Wailing 2016 You Might Also Like These Films


  • "The Witch" (2015): Directed by Robert Eggers, "The Witch" is a chilling horror film set in 17th-century New England. It follows a devout Christian family who becomes increasingly paranoid and terrified when strange occurrences begin happening on their remote farm. Like "The Wailing," it explores themes of supernatural terror and psychological unraveling.

  • "Hereditary" (2018): Directed by Ari Aster, "Hereditary" is a haunting psychological horror film that follows a family grappling with grief and disturbing events following the death of their secretive grandmother. As they uncover dark family secrets, they descend into a nightmare of demonic possession and existential dread. Like "The Wailing," it delves into themes of family trauma and supernatural horror.

  • "The Babadook" (2014): Directed by Jennifer Kent, "The Babadook" is a psychological horror film that explores the debilitating effects of grief and trauma on a mother and her young son. As they are haunted by a malevolent entity from a mysterious children's book, they must confront their inner demons to survive. Like "The Wailing," it combines psychological tension with supernatural horror.

  • "The Ritual" (2017): Directed by David Bruckner, "The Ritual" follows a group of friends who embark on a hiking trip in the Scandinavian wilderness to honor their deceased friend. However, they soon find themselves stalked by a malevolent presence lurking in the forest, forcing them to confront their darkest fears and past traumas. Like "The Wailing," it combines atmospheric dread with supernatural terror.

  • "Noroi: The Curse" (2005): Directed by Kôji Shiraishi, "Noroi: The Curse" is a found-footage horror film that follows a documentary filmmaker investigating a series of paranormal events and mysterious deaths in Japan. As he delves deeper into the sinister conspiracy behind the curse, he becomes ensnared in a web of terror with catastrophic consequences. Like "The Wailing," it unfolds as a complex and atmospheric mystery with chilling supernatural elements.


The Wailing 2016 Reviewed FAQs


Q: What is "The Wailing" about? 

A: "The Wailing" is a South Korean horror film directed by Na Hong-jin. It follows the story of a police officer, Jong-gu (played by Kwak Do-won), investigating a series of mysterious deaths in a small village. As the investigation deepens, a Japanese stranger (Jun Kunimura) arrives, and the bizarre incidents escalate, blending violence with a seemingly supernatural sickness. Jong-gu becomes desperate to protect his daughter, who becomes afflicted, drawing him into a battle with unseen forces and questioning his own beliefs.


Q: Who are some of the notable actors in "The Wailing"? 

A: The movie stars Jun Kunimura as the enigmatic Japanese stranger, whose unsettling presence fuels much of the film's mystery. Other key actors include:

  • Kwak Do-won as Jong-gu, the bumbling but well-meaning police officer

  • Hwang Jung-min as Il-gwang, a flamboyant shaman enlisted to help battle the evil.

  • Chun Woo-hee as Moo-myeong, the 'Woman in White' whose ethereal presence hints at hidden knowledge.


Q: Why is "The Wailing" considered one of the best horror movies? 

A: Many viewers praise "The Wailing" for its intense sense of dread, compelling storytelling, and unique take on the horror genre. Here's why it stands out:

  • Atmosphere of unease: Na Hong-jin creates a world steeped in creeping terror, using desolate landscapes, incessant rain, and an unsettling soundscape.

  • Ambiguity as a tool: The film thrives on unanswered questions and multiple interpretations, forcing the viewer to engage deeply and grapple with the unknown.

  • Blending genres: It combines elements of police procedural, folk horror, exorcism, and even dark comedy, keeping the audience constantly off-balance.


Q: Where can I find user reviews for "The Wailing"? 

A: User reviews for "The Wailing" can be found on popular platforms like IMDb and various movie review websites. Additionally, sites like Rotten Tomatoes aggregate both critic and audience scores.


Q: How does "The Wailing" escalate the tension? 

A: The film masterfully builds a sense of mystery and suspense as the protagonist tries to save his daughter from a mysterious affliction plaguing the village. This tension is heightened by:

  • Mounting deaths and violence: The scale of the tragedy spirals throughout the film.

  • Conflicting explanations: Supernatural elements clash with rational investigations, leaving both Jong-gu and the audience in doubt.

  • Jong-gu's desperation: His transformation from clumsy cop to a frantic, nearly broken father adds a layer of emotional urgency.


Q: Who are some acclaimed Korean directors associated with "The Wailing"? 

A: "The Wailing" has earned praise from giants of Korean cinema:

  • Bong Joon-ho (known for "Parasite", "Snowpiercer", "Memories of Murder")

  • Park Chan-wook (director of "Oldboy", "The Handmaiden", and the Vengeance Trilogy)


Q: What makes "The Wailing" stand out among other movies? 

A: "The Wailing" is renowned for its intricate plot, well-developed characters, and the way it blends elements of horror and mystery to create a unique viewing experience. Additionally:

  • Length as a tool: Its runtime of 156 minutes allows for slow-burn terror and complex character arcs.

  • Stunning visuals: The cinematography is both beautiful and haunting.

  • Performances: The cast delivers incredibly nuanced and believable portrayals that ground the film's more outlandish moments.

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