The Wailing





Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing (2016) has been acclaimed as one of the very best horror films of recent years. In The Wailing, a mysterious illness turns its rural victims into comatose perpetrators of familicide. In the fog of an unknown spiritual war, police officer Jong-goo is helpless as his community fragments and suspicions turn to a mysterious Japanese stranger. When Jong-goo’s young daughter becomes a target between warring factions, Jong-goo faces zombies, ghosts, devils, and the possessed to uncover what is happening, and why.

Over its 156 minutes the film plays with apparently opposed genres, such as slapstick comedy, small-town drama, otherworldly horror, and religious agony, which combine to obscure our search for meaning. The Wailing’s cross-pollination makes for an overwhelming experience, one that leads viewers down a twisting road of deep laughter and crushing silence. Since its release, the film has continued to confound viewers, but in this Devil’s Advocate, Sam Ankenbauer attempts to illuminate the world of The Wailing, where religions, politics, cultures, and histories combine, resulting in a truly unique film experience.

Author Information

Sam Ankenbauer is a Doctoral student at the University of Michigan School of Information and Programmer for Cinetopia Film Festival.