The Wailing

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By Jaie Laplante, Director of Programming, Miami Film Festival

The ranks of great Korean thrillers from the past decade or so – Oldboy, I Saw The Devil, Mother, The Chaser, The Man from Nowhere, The Yellow Sea – are about to be joined by Na Hong-jin’s kinetically frightening opus The Wailing, opening in Miami this Friday, June 24th.


The Wailing was a huge critical hit at its international gala premiere at the recent Cannes Film Festival – where it was somewhat controversially screened out-of-competition, whereas countryman Chan Park-wook’s new film The Handmaiden was included in the competition, but did not become an awards frontrunner. At home in Korea, The Wailing is the eighth-highest grossing domestic production of all time.


Unlike today’s tightly-structured, all-too-predictable horror films that focus on a single ghost and the protagonists’ quest to kill it, Na Hong-jin’s expert direction gives The Wailing all the realistic groundings of an epic, complex psychological drama. He takes, as his theme, the spectre of humanity at the mercy of those who wish to destroy it. Is there any certainty we can trust anymore, with our fellow human beings? Where is God? The reality of recent massacres haunts this picture like an evil changeling. The Wailing is about good vs. evil, but in this movie, evil shapeshifts so fast that fighting it seems often hopeless – immediately connecting with our most immediate fears.


The Wailing is thick on atmosphere, suspense and tension. When the police captain is called to the first murder scene, the investigation takes place during a pounding rainstorm – quite literally stoking the sense of the heavens erupting in out-of-control madness. Even after the rain subsides, those fighting for the life instinct stumble across rot and decay in scenes that crescendo in dread.


Committed performances by an A-list cast give The Wailing a natural gravitas that makes it a worthy heir to Hong-jin’s earlier films, The Chaser and The Yellow Sea. In a summer that has so far faced withering big-budget studio disappointments, The Wailing is a classic summer movie, the best of its kind since World War Z.

Showtimes & tickets:




Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante is the Miami Film Festival's executive director and director of programming. Learn more about Jaie on Programmers.