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What? Wait… Wow! WTF??!! Hey this is a funny police creepy-thriller with a chubby police officer in some Korean small town with very poor weather. He is stumbling into some creepy crime scenes and how he starts to see all kinds of ghosts and ghouls and gets all agitated about it… hilarious, right? No. Turn that premise around and let’s say this is an ultimate-level horror movie, as in good vs evil, and some police officer and family father has the fortune of stumbling into it. Epic, right? No. It is The Korean Exorcist with one hell of an exorcism by a Shaman who maybe really knows what he is doing and to whom people should listen more carefully when he is giving instructions (he gives two in the course of the film, and ignoring them  turns out to be costly). Oh and it is a careful allegory about xenophobia in rural Korea, where people turn against the Japanese guy when things go awry, because he is creepy, and nobody understands him anyway. It is about the deeply frustrating efforts of parenting, and how to make the right choices for your kid. And Zombies.

There are two memorable set pieces in this film, and I am pretty sure even when I cannot remember a thing about the plot anymore, I will never forget those: 1) an utterly frantic shaman ceremony to expel a ghost who may or may not be there at all, with wild drums and spraying chicken blood and wild dancing and coffin nails … think Epiphany Proudfoot without the sex but a goat! 2) I have seen many thriller / horror finales, but never any like this. The action happens at three locations and we get cuts from here to there to yonder, and back, and back, and … everything gets slower and slower, the action grinds to a halt, all three locations / characters are as well as paralysed, unable to move forward and take on the challenges, or to at least run away as fast as they can. A thrilling end game where there is indecent eating in location 1, chatting with a pretty girl in location 2 and taking pictures in location 3. Our hero is faced with an utterly unresolvable task of figuring out who says the truth, his shaman buddy or the Lady in White, and everything depends on whether he gets it right. I still do not have half a clue about what “really” happens, and in particular why, but that film putting the brakes on and screeching to a halt amidst the highest tension  and about the highest stakes is bold as bold can be. Fabulous!

Hong Jin-na has three major pictures on his CV, and all three are excellent entertainment. Can’t wait to be thrown off the track again by him soon! Oh, and Kudos to Kwak Do-won as Jong-Goo the police officer. He plays all notes on the fiddle, from slapstick to horror!

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_wailing

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