[31 Days of Horror Reviews] Day Twenty-Eight: Na Hong-jin's 'The Wailing'

Perhaps I’m sheltered, but nothing scares me more than investing two and a half hours into a horror movie which may or may not suck. It’s a risk, and a big one at that—think of all the things you can do with that time! You can water your plants…you can smoke your plants…you can educate younger generations on the dangers of plants…

All kidding aside, I fucking LOVED The Wailing, which is currently available on Shudder. It’s one hell of a time investment, but it’s worth the ride.

Directed by Na Hong-jin, The Wailing is a story of demons, faith, and the dangers of misplaced trust during crisis. This movie has so many twists and turns that it’s a little hard to keep up, and I can see why the imposing time is necessary for the story to unfold effectively.

Villagers are acting strange after the arrival of a mysterious stranger, and when Sgt. Jeon Jong-gu (Do-won Kwak) discovers his young daughter has been afflicted by the presence of a malicious spirit, he’ll toil endlessly to fight an entity he has no way of defeating. He solicits the help of shamans, and he takes a lynch mob to the doorstep of his prime suspect, but there’s almost nothing he can do to fix what’s destroying his child.

Although there are some brilliant visual scares throughout the movie, what really landed with me was the relationship between Sgt. Jeon and his daughter, especially while he watches her struggle painfully to control the entity using her body. He’s absolutely helpless through most of the movie, and even when an answer presents itself, he can follow through completely because even the correct path entails suffering for those he loves most.

It’s very hard for me to discuss The Wailing without spoiling anything, and those of you who’ve seen it can likely empathize with my struggle. There’s so much about the final twenty minutes that I’d like to discuss, and if any of you are feeling chatty, I encourage you to hit me up.

Alas, I hate reviewers who spoil movies, and I hate hypocrisy even more. Therefore, I leave you with a story which only sort of relates to my feelings toward The Wailing (other than saying it’s a goddamn great movie that you should drop your plans to watch). Ready?

My freshman year of college, there was a girl I found oddly attractive. She was quiet and much to herself, not the type of girl who’s the star of any party she attends. I met her through a friend, and although we hit it off, I found myself doubting she’d be worth the pursuit. After all, there were so many loud and self-obsessed girls to pursue, and I was young and naïve. We hung out a few times, and I brushed aside her advances.

That girl and I lost touch, but near the tail end of my second semester I saw her at another party. She was with someone else, and they seemed happy as could be. Hands locked, bodies close together almost constantly, and an unrelenting look of bliss upon both their faces. Although I’d had plenty of other fun experiences, I knew I’d missed out on something great with this girl, unassuming as she was.

The Wailing is that girl. Sure, she’s a slow-burn and usually less flashy than other girls, but she’s got something in her that’ll change you as a human being. This movie’s an experience you haven’t had yet, and even if you’ve seen everything by Ari Aster or other geniuses of our time, I guarantee you haven’t seen anything as effective as The Wailing.

In short….go to her, bro.

*Cue the romantic cinephile music*



Throughout the month of October, I’ll be reviewing 31 movies I’ve never seen before. Is there an excellent movie you think I haven’t seen? Tell me in the comments below, and I’ll check it out!