I mentioned earlier how I may be stretching myself a little thin right now, and I think it's true. But for the first time since I got my job in Rockford, I feel like I'm on a clear path that leads to somewhere better. Job-wise I've been blessed, but there's a lot of turnover in news and it's for a good reason. Some days are harder than others (usually Tuesdays and Thursdays!) but no matter how bad it gets, I can look at a calendar and be excited. OK, with that cryptic nonsense out of the way, let's talk about...
The Wailing (2016)
I've wanted to watch this movie for years but the 2:30 runtime always scared me away. I mostly watch movies at night and late nights hit me a lot harder in the morning than they used to. But after reviewing two horror comedies in a row, I figured it was the perfect time to check out a movie I've seen people rave about.
Before I get it, this is a Korean film and it's subtitled. That's not a problem for me, but I know how some get about that. As an aside, I've heard people say that foreign horror is much better than American horror. I don't know if I agree with that. It's similar to a question someone once asked Lance Storm. He's a Canadian wrestler and someone asked him why wrestlers from Canada were so much better than American ones. Storm brushed the question aside saying it only seems that way because the only wrestlers we see from Canada are the ones good enough to break into the American psyche. There are so many wrestlers from Canada that will never make it here and we'll never know of them so the numbers seem a bit skewed.
I think that logic applies to horror movies as well. There are many amazing foreign films, but there are even more bad ones. The ones we know about, we know about them because they're great. But if we were fed the same ratio of foreign to domestic horror, I think we'd find the numbers are mostly similar.
OK, that was a bit of a tangent. Let's move on. An officer in a small village in Korea is called out to the scene of a murder. When he gets there, the murderer, a member of the family, is sitting on the porch, covered in blood, and seems to be catatonic. Inside, the family was brutally butchered. As the days go on, they find more cases of this. Each of the murderers gets a gross infection and it's starting to spread throughout the village. It's when the officer's daughter gets infected that he takes matters into his own hands.
He and other officers begin to suspect a Japanese man of being an evil spirit. He wandered into town and bad things started happening. The officer gets a Shaman to help his daughter and the Shaman also points the finger at the stranger. So the father and a small posse go to check out the stranger's home. While inside, they see a bunch of pictures of the victims and are convinced he is the baddie. There's also a mysterious woman who shows up and her motives are a mystery for the longest time.
There's obviously a lot more going on, I mean the movie is 2.5 hours long, but those are the highlights before we get to the finale. It's not so much scary, but it keeps a very uneasy mood throughout. There are some REALLY effective scenes of a person coming across what looks like a man eating somebody. Your heart skips a beat each time the baddie notices the character and it's tense as Hell when he disappears out of sight. It also has characters standing in darkness for maximum creepiness. There are several times when a character bathed in shadow will appear on the screen and all you can do is wait for something to happen. Those moments are extremely creepy.
I liked the characters well enough but I was surprised by how mean everyone was to each other. Before things get really bad, they spend almost the entire movie yelling or insulting each other. But, I really liked the relationship between the father and the daughter. You get the feeling the man isn't the greatest son, husband or cop, but you can tell he loves his daughter. It kills him to see her get infected and he breaks down in happy tears when he thinks she's better. It's not often to see a male protagonist in a horror movie openly weeping but it adds to his character. He's seen up close what that infection leads to and it only makes sense he'd react that way.
There's not much else to say, but before I go, I want to talk about the ending. I won't spoil it, don't worry. In the end, he learns his daughter is absolutely not fine. While looking for his daughter, the mysterious woman tells him the Japanese man is an evil spirit and is possessing his daughter. She sets a trap for it and if the father goes into his house before the rooster crows for the third time, he and his family will die. It's at this point the father gets a call from the Shaman who tells him that he was wrong, the woman is the evil spirit and the Japanese man was trying to stop her. You and the father have no idea who is telling the truth. Just a few minutes ago you saw the woman's power but the stranger seems unnatural.
You can't help but feel the same things the father feels. I kept going back and forth on who to trust, and as a father in his situation, I don't know if I'd be able to not run to my child. In my head I was practically begging him to stay with her but the movie doesn't let you know for sure. You desperately want him to make the right choice and... well I don't want to ruin it. That scene is so good and it hinges on you not knowing the right answer.
I mentioned earlier how it wasn't that scary. Let me rephrase it a bit. It's not that scary for the longest time. But there's a scene at the end that is downright chilling. I won't get into it, but it's the moment where everything gets revealed and you're like, "Oh, shit!"
To sum it up, it's a very good movie that is well worth your time! The runtime is daunting, but it doesn't feel that long. The atmosphere is creepy and I liked how it was raining almost the entire time, it adds to the atmosphere. Lastly, the characters feel real, and the ending is pretty fantastic!