Gokseong or The Wailing (2016)
Director: Na Hong-jin
Stars: Do Won Kwak, Hwan-hee Kim, Jun Kunimura, Chun Wo-hee and others
Gokseong or the Wailing is a modern horror masterpiece. Horror is a genre which interests us deeply but, modern horror films fail to satisfy us due to the lack of cinematic creativity. The Wailing is a great silver lining to modern horror. It is not an easy going flick that relies on cheap jump scares and predictive elements. It’ll make you squirm and whimper in discomfort. The Wailing is Na Hong-jin’s desecration of hell in earth which explores a superior form of insanity and black magic.
The Wailing has a suspenseful yet, a straight forward plot. Kwak Do-Won plays the role of the protagonist “Jong-Goo”. Jong-Goo is a cop who investigates the mysterious deaths in his village. His investigation leads him to a stranger (played by Jun Kunimura) and soon unforeseen circumstances impact his family. Jong-Goo’s unpleasant adventures take us to dark corners. The film portrays a symbolic blend of good and evil which is erratic and traditional. The clumsy sluggishness of the Jong-Goo and the mysteriousness of “the stranger” develop into beautifully character arcs, sidelined with the disturbing possession of Jong-Goo’s daughter, Hyo-jin (played by Hwan-hee Kim). Na Hong-jin explores primitive, religious and traditional eccentricity and delivers an innovative occultist thriller. The relatively long time-frame of the movie dissolves and becomes insignificant as the puzzling plot unravels. The obscene anti-climax will leave you in a despair and imbalance.
The screenplay is masterfully crafted and the cinematic elements are embedded perfectly with no mismatch. Na Hong-jin masters the concept of tension and carries an atmospheric intensity throughout the film. There is no compromise in the depiction of the traditional authenticity. The costumes, the location backdrops and the traditional references are in a super fine order. The cinematography is stark and beautiful. Jang Young-gyu, once again creates an astounding score which is bereft of harmony and compliments the film’s dark visuals.
The Wailing tackles the predicament of modern horror (which we will discuss in a future post). It pulls all the right stops to frighten and thrill the viewers, leaving a lasting impression in the mind. It not only has the brain to provide a new flavor and authenticity, but also succeeds in being a potentially frightening film. With great dedication from all fronts, it provides suspense and pure terror. It is extremely engaging and entertaining and it is one of the best horror films we have seen in the 21st century.