Jong Joo is a small town policeman, who lives a simple life with his wife, mother and a little daughter. One morning he is awaken by a phone - there's been a murder. When he arrives at the scene he finds the family slaughtered and the culprit, the family member, out of his mind and covered in blood and furuncles, sitting on the front porch. This is just the beginning of the series of misfortunes of the little town. When Jong Joo’s daughter starts to behave strangely, t sets off a race against time to find the real culprit. Is it a strange Japanese man who lives alone in the forest and practices satanic rituals? Or is it something more sinister the words can describe?
South Korean director Hong Jin Nah has made only two feature films and both of them are among my favorites. His third feature THE WAILING had been 6 years in making. His unique way to structure the story is straightforward, but also dreamlike, is nothing you had ever seen. A modern viewer has certain expectations when going to see a film, but here those expectations all go out of the window. For its enormous 156 minutes run, the movie holds your interest by not following any conventional storytelling and an anticipation that anything, absolutely anything can happen.
Mixing the native folklore and the modern way approach to evil, THE WAILING has a unique atmosphere of mystery, where nothing, even the weather, cannot be taken for granted. The characters seem to get stuck under the perpetual rain, but it’s when the quietness of the village night descends, that no one should really feel safe.
There are films that are entertaining, there are films that leave long lasting impression, but there are also films I call “an experience”. THE WAILING is one of those films.
Withholding some information from the viewer, even after the credits start to roll, THE WAILING still delivers a satisfying, hair raising ending, that will make you think.
Don’t go to see it alone. You would want to discuss it with somebody afterwards.