The Wailing (Goskung), |
directed by Hong-jin Na
(20th Century Fox, 2016)
Following the arrival of a mysterious stranger, a bizarre disease sweeps through a small, rural farming community in South Korea. The disease begins as severe rashes and blisters, eventually driving the infected person into a homicidal rage.
A bumbling local policeman becomes involved in the investigation into the grisly deaths when his daughter becomes one of the infected. Desperate for a cure, Jong-gu (Kwak Do-won) searches for the enigmatic visitor. As the town falls deeper into hysteria and dark characters begin to emerge one after the other from the shadows, Jong-gu's judgment begins to slip. Is it a human disease that's driving people mad or is it a supernatural evil? Enlisting the help of a shaman, Jong-gu inadvertently sets in motion a series of events that will destroy everyone he loves -- and swallow the town in unthinkable malevolence -- if he doesn't find a way to stop it.
What makes The Wailing such a pleasure is that it's so very well made in virtually every category: the powerful acting, the complex writing, the intensely beautiful camera work and the staggeringly effective atmosphere. It's actually quite a funny film, albeit a blackly comedic one, with bursts of horrid violence that are somehow effective because of, not despite, the nearly slapstick nature of the comedy; in fact, these well showcased opposites provide a great tonal balance. There is a full blown shamanistic exorcism in the middle of the second act, one of several heart-in-the-mouth moments. Most of all, there's the heart-pounding dread that burrows under your skin and won't let go, leaving you with a lingering sense of fright.
The Wailing is a truly an amazing film, one that demonstrates serious skill on every level of the story, rightfully making it one of the "best ever" horror films ever made.
8 April 2017
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