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Two Evils Don't Make a Good

The Wailing Review

One of the most critically-acclaimed horror films of 2016 was The Wailing. Hailing from South Korea, a factory for good horror, the film follows a policeman who is investigating a series of gruesome murders that seem to be related to some kind of maddening disease that is spreading through the village. When his own daughter appears to be suffering similar ailments, he seeks answers down any avenue he can.

One of the common review points I've heard since its release is the apparent and simple plot of good versus evil. Perhaps I am showing my ignorance here, but I didn't really pick up on this blatant tale of good versus evil. In fact, as the film went along, the good became very vague while the evil was more apparent. I suppose that just because it's a battle between good and evil, it doesn't mean the good has to win, but the good should at least have a foothold of sorts at the beginning, and as the film moves along it would seem that good is hardly present at all. This is more a triumph of evil.

Regardless of the film's intention, the execution is on-point. The familiar charm and antics that accompany many South Korean horror films is evident here. It helps to carry the film in the beginning as the terror builds momentum. The characters' selfishness that is present throughout the film teases as being starting points for later moments of redemption, but then later are treated as more reasoning for the predicament.


As the film is in the middle of its final act, the mystery is unraveling and raveling back together in literal minutes. The twists are dropped one after the other, until there is such a putrid atmosphere of moral ambiguity around every character that you can't quite determine the innocence of anyone. Even our supposed ghost (that is first neutral, then, good, then bad, then good again) is dropping blatant lies in an attempt to keep our protagonist out of harm's way. And while her intentions seem pure, and seem to be correct, her persistent deception right up till the end is difficult to dismiss.


The Wailing lacks the lighthearted nature of The Host and doesn't quite live up to the fantastic I Saw the Devil, but it falls somewhere in between or right after those films as far as its success in the genre. It was certainly worth the watch and did not leave me disappointed despite the acclaimed reputation that preceded it.

Horror Qualifier: 8/10

Horror Quality: 6/10

Film Quality: 8/10

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