The Wailing (2016)
A series of random killings linked to a mysterious illness rock a small Korean village. When his daughter shows signs of being afflicted by the same illness, the bumbling officer in charge of the case (a remarkable Kwak Do-won) takes increasingly desperate measures to uncover its source.
Director Na Hong-jin has woven together a wonderfully complex film, one that is deeply rooted in religious iconography while exploring themes of family, faith, and fear of the other. And while a little knowledge of Korean culture goes a long way towards understanding some of the film's twists, take nothing away from Na, who paces the film with a deliciously deliberate hand. A gleefully insane exorcism scene that would have been the climax of a lesser horror film only serves as an opportunity to switch gears, and after 2 hours of stage setting, the gut-wrenching escalation in the final half hour will suck the very air out of your lungs.
The Wailing makes a perfect pairing for The Witch, with the former chronicling a descent into evil, while the latter examines the nature of evil itself. Arrayed alongside other gems like Iran's Under the Shadow and It Comes At Night, what a year it is to be a horror fan.
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