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The Wailing

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Lesly Gonzalez
Topic replies: 16
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The Wailing

I wanted to rewatch The Host (2007) for this assignment, but honesty prevailed and I watched a film I hadn't seen. I, quite selfishly, watched The Wailing (2016). This Korean thriller is not appropriate to use in a classroom setting, but is thoroughly entertaining. 

The film centers around Kwak Do-won, a police officer in a small town whose work becomes increasingly difficult when townfolk begin murdering their relatives. These murderers appear to be afflicted by something, made evident by skin lesions and erratic behavior that includes wailing.

As attacks escalate, attention quickly turns to a recent arrival to the town (The Stranger), an elderly Japanese man. It's not long before these events become personal for Kwak; his investigation leads him to find one of his daughter's sneakers in the Japanese man's house, a foreshadowing of his own daughter's coming wailing.

I don't want to reveal too much of the plot, but Kwak shifts gears from trying to solve these murders to finding a cure for his ailing daughter.

I am certain that there are elements of Korean traditional religious beliefs, spirituality, and superstition that I did not fully grasp, but this did not affect my enjoyment of the film as there were enough allusions to Christianity for me to process; it made me laugh, think, and whisper, "whhaaattt?" a few times. By the end of The Wailing I am not fully sure what the whole thing means or the nature (good, bad, evil) of certain characters or their culpability in the events that transpire. I personally like this feeling because the movie is not over after the credits stop rolling. One is left to question and revisit...


Jonathan Tam
Topic replies: 88
Topic Posts: 28
Wailing Film Review (Spoilers)

The Wailing is a horror movie directed by Na Hong-jin. It is by far one of the most terrifying films I have ever seen and despite the fact that I think it holds very little place in the classroom for being so graphic and horrifying, there might be a place for students to leisurely explore films like this in their own time. The film transitions heavily between a lot of tropes that are present in American cinema. It begins as a murder mystery after the appearance of local distress and phenomena - much like something you would find in the hit American series, Stranger Things. It then transitions to an Exorcism-esq film, where a Shaman attempts to prye evil spirit from a young girls body. And it concludes with the confrontation with a monstrosity that is beyond our world - much like something you would find in Halloween or It.

Again, this film really hold no place in the classroom itself, but I think it holds a place in students’ free time. Just about every student at my school has a netflix account or shares a netflix account with someone else. And if there ever was a way to enhance visibility of South Korea and Asia in students of downtown Los Angeles, I think it might be through a shared appreciation of horror. To say that The Wailing was a good horror film is an understatement. It is great horror film that doesn’t hold back any violence or pain and takes considerably risk in evolving its plot. It is a battle between Light (the Woman in White), Darkness (the Demonic Japanese Man), and Human (the Shaman and Police Officer). And for that reason, it is an incredibly compelling film for any horror fanatic.

I plan to do a few more South Korean horror films just to spread the word through my students. Especially with such commercial success in films like It and Get Out, I really do hope that films like The Wailing find themselves experienced by my students.

The Wailing: 9/10