The Wailing

We originally chose this movie for Father's Day, but other things came up. This Korean flick involves a father fighting for his daughter's life as the town where he works as a cop becomes overrun by a strange kind of sickness. Universally regarded as fantastic, we look at it from our own unique perspectives and give you our own take.

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The Wailing (2016)

Episode 230, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw

Todd: Hello, and welcome to another episode of two guys and a chainsaw. I’m Todd.

Craig: And I’m Craig.

Todd: I chose the movie for this week. We’ve been doing a lot of requests lately and it was coming up around father’s day. And I suggested did this film. This is a 2016 South Korean horror film called the wailing. It came highly recommended by a lot of people.

It has a 99% positive review on rotten tomatoes. It’s directed by now Hong gin. It seemed to have a lot to do with fatherhood and fathers in the story centers around his father, more or less trying to save his daughter. And so I thought it would be inappropriate movie for father’s day and because I’d heard so much good stuff about it online.

Uh, some people saying it was the best movie of 2016, one of the best horror films to come around and decades, I thought we’d needed to watch it and give it a whirl. It’s also available on Amazon prime. So when we’re done talking about it, if it strikes your fancy. Oh, you can watch it as well. What I wasn’t terribly excited about was the two and a half hour running time.

But, uh, everything I had read online said the movie, uh, earns it totally. So, um, we gave it a whirl and, uh, we watched it. So that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. But I had not really heard about this movie until a few days ago when I sought it out and suggested to Craig that we watch it. How about you, Craig?

Craig: Uh, it’s funny. Cause I thought that I hadn’t heard of it either. And then when I started reading about it a little bit, I realized that I had actually, I already seen it. Uh, I saw it last year. About this time I have a cousin in Denver, uh, or actually Colorado brings who is also a big horror fan. And he and I talk about movies quite a bit when we see each other and.

He said that this was what he thought was right. Best horror movies he’d ever seen. And so when I was out there last summer, we sat down to watch it, but we got kind of, it’s a two and a half hour long movie, and we don’t see each other very often. So we found ourselves. Pausing a lot, just kind of talk and we didn’t actually get all the way through it.

And so when I got back home to Missouri, I finished it here. So I had seen it, but I didn’t really remember a whole lot about it, but then going in and watching it again, I remembered it and I remembered what was going on. As far as evaluation goes, you know, where do you stand? I don’t want to show my hands who are really

Todd: well.

Um, This is pretty Korean horror movie. It’s a pretty Korean movie, I think. Uh, it’s pretty bleak. It’s a little, I think at times Lynchian I think it’s very, uh, uh, a little opaque even though. It has a plot that makes sense and is moving forward, it’s happening at its own pace. And it’s very dreamlike pace almost to the movie.

Also very realistic there, long moments of silence. There are shots of beauty, sort of mixed in with shots of ugliness. I just felt for at first that I could really get behind the main character, the guy who’s a policeman. His name is, uh, John goo. Who’s just a small, small, rural village policeman. They don’t seem to have more than a few cops here at their local police station up in the mountains.

And they have this small rural village. And the crux of it is that people, uh, well, he, he goes and he visits a crime scene where, uh, somebody has completely murdered, uh, his family stabbed. Stab the many times, and it’s sitting outside on the porch, almost catatonic and looking horrible with just boils. And the body skin is black and the eyes are Milky.

White looks like a zombie. You know, it evokes that kind of image from a zombie movie, but it’s cuffed. You know, and just sitting there, and this is not the first of these kinds of murders that happen in this town. There are several that go on and they all pretty much followed a similar pattern. And I think that the character of the policeman in this movie was extremely relatable.

He doesn’t swoop in like a man in charge who knows what’s going on and knows what to do. He seems. More or less dumbfounded and distracted by everything that’s happening. And it’s not really until his daughter becomes afflicted with these sores, um, and burn kind of burn like sores that they’ve been noticing on Wolf.

For example, those people who have murdering others and also. A few towns. People seem to be getting those that he kind of kicks into overdrive and really feels the need to figure out what’s going on. Uh, there’s kind of an, an urgency and intensity behind his motivation. Bring in a lot of different characters here to help with the situation.

There’s a lot of religious overtones and clashing of religion, which also I think makes it very Korean. You know, I’ve been to Korea. But a half a dozen times. I’m no expert in Korean culture by far, but I feel like I know a little bit about, you know, the Korean people today, there’s they have a history of multicultural multi-religious belief.

And so for Asia, Korea has a very strong Christian population. As well as these sort of deeper folk religions that have the shamanistic roots. And so you see those two sides too, to the plot and to what’s going on in the movie. So it has these heavy, I think, kind of heavy religious overtones that never really let up.

And so. I really kind of felt like the movie was casting a bit of a spell over me when I was watching it. There are moments in the movie where there’s a ceremony and there’s a ritual. And I find, I found myself kind of getting wrapped up in that, um, when he’s investigating, he’s going out and trying to find people there’s, there’s mystery involved and he’s making choices and making decisions and coming home to his family.

They’re very domestic scenes in here. And then they’re just these scenes of utter violence. Not. We don’t see a lot of violence on screen. There are a couple scenes, but mostly we see the aftermath of it, which makes it less look more horrible than what they could possibly have shown you. I think. And then sprinkled in here are little moments of, of comedy, uh, not really real heavy star comedy, but there are a few moments there that.

Never really break it up. I think it’s just a heavy movie that I felt had me wrapped into the story, had me guessing and wondering how it was going to end. And then with a very bleak ending, I was not surprised. It’s also very typical for Korean horror films and Asian horror films. General don’t always end on a happy note or with a.

Clear resolution. I just kind of left the movie in a daze. I just finished watching it like 10 minutes ago. So it’s kind of got me in a bad mood. Maybe not the best way they come into this conversation. But I mean, I have to be honest, it had a nice effect on me. And, and again, uh, you know, I’ve said this before, maybe as a dad, it, it had a little bit more of an effect on me than it would have years before, but.

Of course, these are themes that anybody can relate to when you have somebody that you love. But yeah, it’s a powerful, powerful ending I thought. Okay. But I don’t think this is a movie, you know, Craig, that you can sit and watch on your computer while you’re doing by other things. Maybe, you know, I don’t know if you’re going to get the full impact, probably like when you had that.

First showing of it with your cousin and you’re constantly pausing. I’d imagine that the second time you watched it, you had a bit of a different experience.

Craig: Yeah. I, I don’t know. I just don’t know what to say about this movie, because if I were to break it down into its component parts, like the cinematography and the acting and, uh, The storytelling.

Uh everything’s right. All of the parts are right. For some reason, the sum of the parts just didn’t work for me. And I don’t know if it’s because it is it’s long and I have a really short attention, attention span, and I am not just generally opposed to long movies. Fine with them. If they hold my attention.

And I’m not saying that the movie didn’t hold my attention, I was interested. I just felt that the story didn’t necessarily warrant two and a half hours. Yeah. For whatever reason that some of its parts just didn’t add up for me. And I’m not sure exactly why that is. I think that part of it, yeah. May just be that this is both.

Literally and figuratively kind of foreign to me. Um, it, it was difficult for me to kind of decide what kind of movie it was. And I wish that wasn’t an issue for me, but I think it maybe kind of was ultimately cause in some ways, uh, it kind of feels like a zombie movie, but then I feel like really it’s more about religion and faith.

And maybe I am just ignorant to some of the cultural things that I would need to know about to fully appreciate it. Um, it’s also a family drama and I think that that was probably the most compelling part for me. And I think that, that if I remember correctly, that was what was so appealing to my cousin.

Was that the horror. Of finding oneself in a position where what’s most precious to you in this case, a child is, is vulnerable and in danger and the father wants so desperately to protect her, but he’s really very helpless in the circumstances that is horrifying. The notion of it is. So I can relate to that on a certain level.

And I appreciate that, but the rest of it just felt a little bit convoluted to me and even on watching it a second time, I, I, I feel like I know what was going on. I feel like I understand it. The puzzle pieces fell in place, but, uh, overall by the end, I was just kind of, nah, I don’t know. I see what you mean when you say that John goo is relatable.

He is because he’s very much in every man. He’s not, you know, some die hard type character. Who’s this tough macho guy on a mission to protect his family. He’s just an very average, really kind of sloppy kind of guy. And he is doing his best, uh, to figure things out for himself in his community. Right. But it becomes of course personal when it starts to affect his own family, it is easy to relate to him, but I kind of found it a little bit difficult to care.

I don’t know. I don’t know, I’m kind of at a loss. Really. I was, I was nervous about that coming in because it’s a two and a half hour movie and I’ve got two full pages of notes, but they’re all plot notes. And I don’t know that it’s really even worth going into all that plot because when it boils right down to it, a lot of things.

Happen, but now only a few things have great consequences. So I don’t know how you want to approach this.

Todd: Yeah, it’s slow. I mean, you’re right. It’s slow because it’s sort of insists on taking you through every moment of this drama. That’s unfolding there aren’t big jumps in time. And also we get a lot of the quiet moments.

Where there’s nothing happening, but the family is still there consoling someone or thinking about things. I think what was interesting to me was the father’s relationship with his daughter. Yeah, it was, it was hard to pin down at first, you know? I mean, you saw that he loved her. You saw that they had a very loving relationship, but I wasn’t sure in the beginning of he’s the kind of guy who is away a lot and doesn’t pay her too much mind.

She had a little bit of. I don’t want to say resentment, but a little bit of antagonism towards him. There’s a stranger in town. I think I need to at least mention a few of these plot points because they kind of wrap up kind of relate. And so there’s potentially this  infection. That’s infecting people and causing this to happen.

Um, one guy, I think it’s his partner. Oh, Seong Bach, uh, is talking about a Japanese stranger who has. Been in town who keeps to himself and has a very small cabin, a little bit up in the woods and how he’s convinced that this guy is somehow behind it. And this part of the movie bothered me a little bit. I don’t know.

I’m sure it was possibly intentional. The director said the director said this wasn’t his intent, but you can’t cast a Japanese character as an outsider in a Korean movie. The people were suspicious about this Japanese character and not conjure up this tension that has always, that has existed for a long time between Japan and South Korea.

Um, we know historically, especially from world war II and the atrocities that were committed there, even though those countries are very much intertwined, they still have a great deal of tension between them and distrust. And so I feel like putting that Japanese character in this movie and he sorta turned basically turns out to be.

A bad guy. I felt like the movie was setting us up. Like a lot of Hollywood movies do where Oh yeah. You think because he’s Japanese and he’s the loner in town. Everybody’s going to suspect him. But later on, we’re going to learn he’s innocent all along. And that he’s been wrongly persecuted and that’s the moral message.

Like, you know, don’t be so xenophobic, but actually their suspicions turn out to be right. And I think part of this tension. Where I was at one side, suspecting this guy and on the other side, blaming myself for suspecting him, but then finding reason to suspect him again. And then by the end of the movie, finding out, yeah, he is actually responsible in large part for what was going on that.

Unsettled me, I guess, you know, we like our moral messages to be crisp and clear, and that really muddied the waters for me. And I think that was probably intentional. It, it, it kept me on my toes because it didn’t follow that Hollywood formula. And I kind of wanted it to, because I wanted to let this guy off the hook, I wanted to believe it was something else.

And then even by the end, you’re not sure. And the final scene of this movie is therefore is so full of tension, I think, because of that. So. Anyway. So they think it might be this guy, who’s an outsider. And, uh, then at the crime scene where the have another of another crime where a woman had actually burned the house down, the police officer Jew, John who runs into a woman who just kind of comes out of the woods and, and she says to him, it is the Japanese stranger.

He’s a gun most. And he’s responsible for this. Then she kind of disappears and he starts having dreams. He has a dream about this stranger running through the woods, devouring, a pig pig with us, just basically bearing his face and eating it like a zombie, and then coming at you and with these glowing, with these, you know, whitish gross red eyes, which is exactly the same as somebody else had said, they had a rumor.

That he was doing this too, right? Was it the girl or was it somebody else? I can’t remember.

Craig: It was just some Hunter in the woods, like he ends and that happened earlier. Like this guy, he owns a, like a pharmacy or he, he sells like, gosh, I don’t know the right word solves and herbal supplements and those types of things, but he was out in, um, This was early in the movie.

He was out in the woods and he likes, shot a deer. But when he threw the deer up over his shoulders, I guess, to carry it home or to his car or whatever, he slipped and he fell and he hit his head and he, he got knocked out. And when he woke up, he saw that same thing. He saw this guy who ends up being this Japanese guy in nothing, but what they call a diaper.

Uh, yeah. Just an odd, an odd undergarment with like panels that hang down the front and the back. And, uh, this, this guy was eating raw much like a zombie, I suppose, or a wild animal, the kill. And a Hunter guy actually had an encounter. Like the, the, the Japanese man is who it ends up being. But like you said, yeah.

Um, in these instances, he’s got like these red, glowing eyes and he kind of walks on all fours, kind of at some points, he had an encounter with them. And then, like you said, John goo has a very similar thing. And you said it was a dream, but that’s very unclear. Cause it doesn’t seem like it is the whole scene plays out out, uh, in the beginning, John goo and his partner.

Are sitting at the crime scene, like guarding the crime scene. And this woman, like you said, this mysterious woman who just remains mysterious throughout, she’s never given a name. She just looks around and they don’t know who she is. She too is a stranger. Are you sure? Because she’s well then I don’t know who the mysterious woman is.

That’s a credited. I assumed that was her in the cast list. One of the principle characters is called the mysterious woman. She doesn’t have a name.

Todd: Oh, well, but you’re right. It makes sense. Then it’s in there as mysterious woman in I you’re right.

Craig: Anyway, um, she is, uh, just acting odd and throwing stones at them and they basically just ignore her. And then John goose sends his partner away to find out something else. And that’s when she, she leads him through the crime scene and tells him this guy is not human.

He’s a ghost. Now, again, this is all stuff that I don’t really understand. Dan I don’t under, I don’t know if this is just lore from the movie or if this is based in Korean tradition, but there’s this, you know, they refer to him as a ghost, but it’s not in the traditional sense that we think of, but they also discuss that.

Like, if it’s a goal, how can he be a tangible. Person that right. You can touch and, and, you know, talk to and, and whatnot. And, and yeah, it’s never really explained it’s more or less just, uh, they say, well, That’s just it, some, some ghosts you can, I don’t know.

Todd: Well, there’s an illusion to, um, I mean the movie starts out with a passage from, I think it’s gone, right.

A biblical passage. Uh, it it’s the scene in the Bible where Jesus reappears to the apostles after he’s resurrected and they are frightened because they think they see a ghost and he holds out his hands to him that appears to, you know, and says here, touch my hands. Would you be able to. To feel a ghost.

So I feel like that is something that’s played with a little bit here as well. I’m not sure what it means, but it seems to be a thematic thread going through the movie.

Craig: Yeah. The point that I was getting at was that when Jingo sees the Japanese man in that state, you know, when he’s at the crime scene, the mysterious woman has disappeared any, he sees him and the guy kind of.

Attacks, I guess kind of, but like you said, it’s, it’s a dream or it seems so because even though everything else has seemed to be playing out in reality, as soon as that guy starts approaching him, he wakes up as though it were a dream. Any we’ve seen that. He’s been, uh, suffering from really violent nightmares even before that, too.

So it’s unclear if that was a dream or if it really happened, I’m ultimately not sure. Okay. But basically what the story boils down to is. This plague of sorts is kind of taking over this small community and people seemingly for no reason are just going mad and killing their entire families. And eventually it spreads to the daughter.

Joan goo puts together that the daughter somehow did have a interaction with this Japanese man. And ever since then, she’s developed that rash and she’s behaving differently. She was kind of. Rambunctious and mischievous before, but also sweet. And they did have some sweet moments together, awkward, maybe, but ultimately sweet.

And after she starts exhibiting signs of this rash, she also starts behaving differently. She lashes out, she swears. She becomes violent. And so he knows something’s going on and he suspects it’s the Japanese man. And so that’s what he pursues and the movie toys with you a little bit. Like they go out to his place in the woods.

He lives deep in the woods and they investigate and they find incriminating. Things, they find two separate kind of shrines. One is set up like a religious shrine, but all of the icons and relics and yeah. All of the imagery and the relics and things appear to be like, Dark beasts and things. Um, and then the other room that’s also lit by candle.

The is, is basically plastered in photographs and it’s photographs of all of the people who I have been infected. Both before and after they were infected. So there’s a clear tie and Django’s partner doesn’t really reveal it until after they leave because they get caught there. The Japanese man catches them there, they leave and the partner shows  a shoe and they believe it’s be the daughter’s shoe.

So they suspect that it’s the Japanese guy, but again, When they encounter the Japanese guy, just in daily life, he normal and not  threatening. Like really. The cops broke into his house and are going through his stuff illegally. And he just kind of idly stands by and doesn’t appear to be very threatening.

And so the movie twice with you, again, like you said, it, the movie is in Korean, of course, but, uh, in the subtitles, they constantly refer to him as a Jap. So I’m assuming that. This is a derogatory way of referring to this guy. So there’s clearly some cultural tension there too. And you wonder if they’re basing it, you know, their fears and their suspicions on those cultural biases or whether the evidence really does yeah.

His point to him being the bad guy. Right. And that kind of the rest of the movie, majority of the movie, just centers around the mystery. And there’s weird things that go on like. The grandmother, the little girl, the daughter’s grandmother calls in this ShawMan and that adds an entirely different dynamic too, because they bring in this guy who believes that the girl is possessed.

That the Japanese man has somehow possessed this girl and they want to perform these rituals to exercise her, I suppose. But that also seems to be when they do that, which by the way, all of those scenes, the ceremonial scenes are very powerful.

Todd: God. Yeah.

Craig: Um, but when they do that, it also seems to cause the daughter excruciating pain to the point where.

I think the parents and we, the viewers fear that if it continues, she’s going to, um, so you don’t know who to trust. You don’t know. Right. And that’s, I guess the filmmaker puts you in the, the position of the data and of the parents. They don’t know who to trust and neither do we. And so that makes it very tense and, and.

Odd.

Todd: Well, and we have additional information in here too. While the shaman, his name is, uh, ill Guang while he is performing this crazy ritual. And it’s, it’s a one it’s actually quite intoxicating to watch. And I read that that was all filmed in one extremely long. Take my God more power to him for that.

It’s really intense, right? Like you said, she is having this pain and these convulsions and it’s getting the parents increasingly anxious. But then we also see in parallel, it seems like this Japanese man is performing a ritual also in his. Little room. And as the ritual goes on, he’s in pain and he is starting to suffer.

And so you’re wondering why is this? Is it because is this a fight? Are these like battling rituals, you know, where one is fighting? The other for this girl, soul is the Japanese made really trying to help the girl, but he’s getting forwarded is the shaman, uh, doing this and it’s hurting the Japanese man.

Because he’s bad because you know, it’s like the Spirit’s leaving her and going into him or, but, but you, you just really, aren’t sure what’s happening here. Uh, neither, like you said, or the parents. And so even though the shaman had told them, you must not interrupt me. They’re caught in this spot where finally the father goes in and interrupts the whole thing.

And so you wonder. Was this smart was this right? Is this going to make things worse? Where does it go from here? And even the parents don’t know. So like you said, I feel like the movie does a really good job of taking you through the journey of the parents. Even when we have additional information, we’re still really no better off than the father is at figuring out what’s going on.

It’s just added mystery.

Craig: And you really sympathize with the father too. I mean, I can’t imagine making. Any other choice, the young actress who plays the daughter does an excellent job of, um, I guess she studied modern dance for months in preparation for these scenes and, um, her body just contorts and really unnatural ways.

And she just appears to be an agony and, you know, ritual, no ritual. I think almost any parent would do anything that they could to relieve. Their child have that kind of pain. Um, so you don’t blame him for stopping the ceremony, but at the same time, I don’t know about you, but I was thinking, well, you just screwed it up.

Like it was, it was right at the end. Like, I feel like all the guy had left to do was to sacrifice this goat. He was getting ready to do it. And then the data interrupts and won’t. Let him finish and, and basically the shaman at that point just kind of gives up and leaves.

Todd: Yeah.

Craig: Or they send them away, I guess.

So then I guess, is it at that point that they decide that they’re going to, I have to go take care of it themselves. At some point, John goo and his, he, he, he puts together a posse basically, and they go back to the Japanese guy’s place.

Todd: Yeah. It seemed like, okay. Now I think that that maybe the Japanese guys ritual was slightly different because what he was doing was cutting away other scenes where it seemed like there was a step, a person in a car and it seemed like what he was doing, doing, or what the shaman was doing or whatever magic was in the air.

Was starting to wake up this dead guy from the car. And so when this posse goes out to get the strain they burst in, they, they asked him what the, they asked the stranger what he did. Oh, no, this was earlier because the stranger had said he’d burned all the photos, uh, that they had found, but yeah, they find him there.

But then this, this guy comes from the woods and attacks them as like a zombie. Right. It’s like a zombie attack. Yeah. And this is where it goes. It’s a little comical because on the one hand, they’re not saying, Hey, it’s a zombie. We got to kill it. Some people are like, no he’s hurt. He needs help. You know, there’s this fight between the group of, are we gonna try to ACE this dude?

Or are we just going to try to restrain him and get some help for him? In the meantime, he’s lashing out at everybody and trying to bite people. And then somebody comes in with a rake and. You know, brings it down on top of his head and yeah. Then the zombie like stops and like slowly turns around. He’s got this rake in his head.

I mean, it gets a little darkly comedic here, like a little three Stooges. So with this sequence, I think a little bit, um, but that anyway gives the stranger time to leave. Uh, and so they finished fighting the zombie and, uh, then they basically, it’s nighttime, I think. And they, uh, start driving back to their village.

It’s dark.

Craig: Well, but he, the stranger, the stranger doesn’t leave. He watches. Uh, covertly. Um, and after they see it, she, and I didn’t even understand what was going on. Yeah. With that whole dead guy in the car. I don’t know who that is. I don’t know what the purpose was for. I don’t know what the purpose was for animating him because like, was he supposed to be kind of a guard dog because John goo had already killed the Japanese guys, actual guard dog.

So was this just kind of like a new guard dog? I don’t know, because. They, they dispatch him. I mean, this guy is, is very tough. You know, he fights like five or six guys all at once and he’s strong and almost invincible, but they eventually take him out. So it’s not like he’s around for very long. He’s really only there for one scene.

And then they see the Japanese guy. And they chase them through the woods and they chase them to a cliff and then they can’t find them well, as it turns out, he has gone over the cliff and it’s just kind of hiding below. So they leave and are driving home. And then we see. The Japanese guy in the woods.

And he sees this mysterious woman that we’ve seen before. Now, I read that they filmed scenes where she chased him through the forest, but they ultimately thought that that didn’t work. The only thing that we see is Joan goo driving home, and he’s got this truck full of guys and the Japanese guy just like falls.

Off a mountain onto their truck and apparently is dead. And then they throw him over the ledge of a cliff,

Todd: right? Yeah. That’s basically it. And I think the implication, because we see that woman again, I’m up in the mountains. I think the implication is that she was. Chasing him there or that she kicked him out into the street or something like that.

She’s, she’s a lingering presence in a lot of these scenes. She’s sometimes in the background, she’s sometimes in and out whether or not the character see them. I got the real strong sense that she was either bad or for good kind of another spirit here who was. Somehow involving herself in these proceedings.

Craig: Right. But then when Joe goo goes home, he goes to the hospital and his daughter has been hospitalized since the failed exorcism, but she’s better. Yeah. So they, they think that they think that she’s okay. That, that this Japanese guy is dead now and she’s okay. And they take her home and everything seems okay for a little while.

Yeah. And then she kind of starts acting weird again. And I don’t remember how it happens. All I remember is eventually the shaman calls

Todd: again. Yeah. The shaman goes to their house for reasons. I’m not exactly sure about. And as he steps out of the car and starts to walk to their house, his nose starts to bleed like insanely and he turns and he looks, and he sees in a little shed just outside there.

The gate of the house is that mysterious woman. And she tells him to get out of here and he just starts. Profusely vomiting, white. Milky fluid and blood and all kinds of stuff. I mean like a Geyser until he goes back to his car and leaves. And then we see that he’s packed up all of his stuff, because I think they’d try to find the Shawmut at some point and they don’t find him, but they see that this place is empty and he’s driving down the road and he’s got all this stuff in the back of his car and he’s been trying to call the parents.

While this girl has been in the hospital, recovering. Finally, he gets a hold of them and he says, look, I had it all wrong. I thought that the man was a demon, but really it’s the woman, she’s the ghost she’s been behind this whole thing. And you need to go home immediately to your daughter.

Craig: Right. He says the old man was trying to

Todd: protect her.

Right. So. That sets up. What I think is a fantastic, um, it was a nail biter for me, the final scene. He goes home. His daughter’s not there. He goes back to the shaman’s place to see if he’s there. That’s when he sees that everything’s been left and then he sees the mysterious woman and she standing just in the shadows.

And she tells him the opposite. She says, I’ve set up crap for the demon at your house. Now you can’t return there until this cock crows three times or else. Your whole family will die. You’ve got to give it time to work. You need to trust me. And at the same time, the shaman calls him back up on the phone and he’s like, is she there?

Are you talking to her? And he’s like, yeah. And he’s like, don’t believe a word. She says, don’t like, don’t let her try to seduce you. You need to go home right now to your daughter. So now we’re again on this guy’s side, we still have no idea. We have no idea what’s going on and we’re just as confused as he is.

And that’s why the scene was so interesting because like the, it grows twice and she’s. Telling him not to go and he’s torn. He thinks he needs to go. He’s about to go. And then he, she grabs his hand and he looks down. And he sees that she is wearing it while he sees first a little bit in the distance that the girls barrette is on the ground where the woman was standing and that he sees that she’s wearing his wife’s sweater.

And that he also, at one point in the past, he remembers she was wearing, um, one of the other victims as jackets. And she sees that he sees this and she says, no, it’s not what you think. And what was going through my mind was this has gotta be one of two things either. She’s, hexing all these people. That’s why she has their stuff.

Like, you know, like the guy had the girl’s shoe or it’s protection. Like it’s, it’s a good hex, you know, like she’s got their stuff as like protective gear that was immediately going through my mind. And he, I think I was too freaked out by that and figured it was not protective and that she was trying to harm them.

So he goes tearing off and she screams after him with tears in her eyes. No, and he goes home and, uh, at there it’s interesting, the little thematic things, and some of this is very cultural at the gate of their house. They have tied up pieces of paper. Over a I’m on a rope that’s kind of over the gate.

This is a very traditional Korean, also Japanese way of like keeping warding off evil spirits, uh, keeping the good spirits in kind of thing. And she’s also hung some, I would call it like some berries. They look like berries, which we had seen in the very beginning of the movie, also stapled to a outside of the first victims home that the cop kind of notices and almost touches, but doesn’t.

And as he passes through that gate, the camera zooms in, on those berries and lets him go off in the distance and we see that they start to shrivel up. So it’s an omen that, Oh God, I bet she was right, right at the same time, this nephew who we’ve never brought up, I think, but it’s this pre it’s it’s his partner’s nephew is a priest or studying to be a priest he’s in the seminary or whatever.

Yeah. And, uh, he was the one brought in to help translate Japanese for this guy. He’s gone off on a fact finding mission of his own because he’s come home and found that his uncle has slaughtered his family and had the same thing happen to him. So he goes off somehow. I’m not sure where he’s near the Japanese guy’s house and then finds a cave.

Is that what it is?

Craig: I’m not sure, but yeah, I mean, Back at the Japanese guy’s place somehow.

Todd: Yeah. Somehow we find a cave and he goes inside and he sees this Japanese man in, surrounding by candles, huddled around a fire or something. And he turns up and looks at him. And this guy is like, basically tell me if you were the devil.

Or not. I need to know and see your true form. And the guy says to him, well, what does it matter? You’ve already said, I’m the devil. There’s nothing I can say or do that’s going to prove otherwise to you. And he says, yes, it is. If you tell me that you’re not the devil and reveal to me your true form, I will come out of here and I will leave you alone.

And this is all juxtaposition with this guy coming back home to find his daughter in the house. And it all kind of happened. Simultaneously. The worst of our fears are realized he opens up the door and goes inside and the kitchen is absolutely a gory mess. And he goes into the pantry and opens it up and finds his wife and his mother-in-law in there pretty much almost dead.

It’s completely slaughtered. And as he’s sitting there, cradling them in his arms, he looks over and sees his daughter standing there with a knife in her hand, then what’s happening in the cave with the Japanese man. The Japanese man says to this guy says, who’s to say, I’m going to let you leave. And I’m like, what do you mean?

He’s like, you have no control over whether you’re going to leave here or not. He does in fact start to show his true form. And I think maybe at least the form that this kid needed to see because he’s Catholic. That was my interpretation of it. Anyway, he ends up transforming into a full on devil. He’s got horns, he’s hairy, he’s got the big long fingernails and everything.

And he starts taking pictures of this guy and you’re like, Oh God, you know, it was him this whole time. Cause he’s taking pictures of this guy. Cause you, like you had said earlier, they had found these before and after pictures of the victims inside his apartment. So it’s so freaking super bleak. This, uh, clearly this kid’s going to die.

Craig: And then also, um, all the while, you know, even. Once Yahoo has gotten home and found his wife and mother or mother-in-law, um, slaughtered. Yeah. Yeah. Meanwhile, we’re also seeing the ShawMan who I think had said that he was coming there, like he was coming to their house or whatever. We see him. And at some point he.

Goes to put something in the back of his car or take something out of the back of his car and a, a trunk falls out and what falls out of it or all of these pictures, the same types of pictures.

Todd: Yeah. That happens at the very end. But at first he arrives at the house, um, and he goes in and he sees the carnage and he takes pictures.

Of the family and you’re like, Holy crap. So this is the guy taking the after pictures, you know, somehow he’s in on it. And like you said, he goes, and he dumped, I accidentally dumped the trunk out. And those pictures that the Japanese guy had said it had been burnt. He had burned  shrunk. So it’s like these two guys are in cahoots right.

The whole time. Yep. Right. And this woman was. Actually trying to protect the family, just like she said from the very beginning. Right. So, but it ends an absolute tragedy. And the final scene that we get in this movie is the father sitting there like wailing almost in death, I think is the idea is he’s almost dead.

And he’s just very weakly saying, Oh, Honey, I’ll take care of you. Daddy will take care of you. I can always protect you. And I frickin wanted to okay. Tears at this moment. And it did the same damn thing that the other Korean movie that we saw a train to Busan, where at the end is the father’s dying. It shows you this flashback to a super happy memory with his daughter.

Yeah, everything is great. And they’re wonderful and they’re happy and they’re smiling and he loves her and everything’s in slow motion and then fade out to the freaking credits. And I just wanted to kill this movie for playing with my emotions so much. Ah, so no, he couldn’t take care of his daughter. He couldn’t protect her.

Like he thought, uh, he was kind of on the wrong path, the whole, well, he was on the right path, but he allowed himself to be tricked and put on the wrong path. Again, did made the wrong choice. Got home, didn’t save her and now he dies. You know, not the kind of movie I needed to be seeing this week. Let me just put it that way.

Yeah.

Craig: I have to say, you know, those, the last 15, 20 minutes were. We as the viewers are just as confused as John goo is, um, I thought that was really good. And I thought that it was very twisty, um, and really kept me guessing. And I really didn’t know, you know, who to trust. Like my instinct told me to trust the woman.

Um, but I thought that because she seemed rational and calm, um, I thought maybe that that was a red herring. Sorta, I don’t know. Um, and, but then when the twist played out that it was in fact, the Japanese man and then which I had never suspected at all that the shaman was in on it the whole time that caught me completely off guard.

Now there is a hint and I. I have to say that I did notice this, but I didn’t really put two and two together. At one point, the shaman is, is kind of in some traditional robes doing something. And then when he’s done, he changes out of his robes into his street clothes. And when he changed, and this is in front of John goo, um, and when he changes out of his robes, we see that he is wearing the same.

Odd and distinct type of undergarment that the Japanese man that we’ve seen him wear before.

Todd: And

Craig: when I saw that, I noted it, but in my mind being an American and not very culturally savvy, I just thought, well, maybe they just wear those.

Todd: I didn’t,

Craig: I didn’t know, but I think that it was meant to be a hint that those two had some sort of tie.

So there was a little bit of a hint, but it caught me off guard. And I wasn’t surprised that the movie ended in the bleak. Way that it did. I kind of figured it was going to, I didn’t think that it was going to have a happy ending

Todd: shaman too, is somebody the grandmother called in, you know, so you don’t, it’s not like he showed up at their doorstep and said, Hey, I’m going to help you.

Like they invited him into the home. So, um, I thought it was interesting. There was a comment made, I think. I think it was by the mysterious woman in the movie, John goo asks her like, why? Like, why is he targeting my daughter? And she says, haven’t you ever been fishing? You know, you don’t, you just throw out a net and you just catch whatever you get.

That’s how he operates. He’s not targeting her. He’s just casting his net. And she took the bait. Right. And, uh, and that was. Depressing. I mean, the movie is an interesting statement on maybe the nature of, of religion. Good and evil. Um, director has been very coy about the movie, but he did say that the idea for the film spring out of a notion that he had one time, that was that he was exploring, which is what if God wasn’t really.

Always good. I’m not sure how that itself plays out in the movie, but I see this idea that you never really know where the evil is. And there’s this interesting notion that there’s this older one that there’s this young woman who’s kind of always chasing it yet. She seems to be pretty helpless at being able to actually stop what’s going on.

She really relies on other people making choices in order to save themselves or help prevent the bad things from happening, you know, like. She says, I cast a spell on your house, a trap to snare them, but you can’t go there. You’re going to break it. And he ends up going there and breaking it. So, and you know, the devil, I think the reason why I think that he.

Took the form of like Satan in the end, isn’t necessarily trying to say that he is Satan, but he’s an evil being maybe of the same line or whatever, but that is what this Catholic kid probably would have seen. He even shows him his hands and he’s got stigmata in his house. He says to him the similar line from Luke, he’s like, you can see, I’m not a ghost.

How does a ghost have fleshed? Like I do. So there’s also this notion that, you know, maybe evil isn’t so mysterious, it’s just present and very real in the world, in the flesh. Right. And we don’t know where it’s coming from and, uh, you can’t always trust your instincts. And sometimes you’re just completely helpless against it.

And I feel like from the beginning of this movie, to the end of this movie, we follow this father through it and we are following his same journey of complete and utter helplessness. Even when we think we’re doing something, it doesn’t really go anywhere. Right. Even when we’re chasing this Japanese guy, we think we’re going to get them.

It doesn’t really amount to a Hill of beans of the, at the end of the day. You know, it was just another thing to do in the meanwhile the bad stuff’s still going to happen. Uh, and so, you know, the movie’s really a downer, I think thematically. And obviously a plot wise and they, they said they were gonna, that they had filmed a deleted scene.

That was going to be a tale ending to this one. I’m one of those clever hahaha, where we would see the Japanese man again, by the side of the road on a bench or something, trying to entice a girl whose parents then take her into the car and drive away. And then the mysterious woman shows up in the foreground, staring at them in the distance as though she’s continuing to pursue him across whatever deeds he’s doing.

But, uh, that was, I think, wisely probably for the same reasons that he cut the scenes of her, her overtly chasing him through the right. Uh, it was probably wise to leave the ending just a little more open like that as well.

Craig: Overall, I think that this is one of those movies that I can appreciate, like I said, I there’s nothing there.

I would criticize specifically for whatever reason that just didn’t come together for me. But I think that overall it’s really well done. Um, one of my favorite, uh, contemporary. Film makers, horror filmmakers right now is Ari Aster, um, who did hereditary and mid-summer in an interview in 2019. He cited this as his favorite horror movie.

And that makes perfect sense because I can see so many parallels between this and his work, you know, the bleak nature of things, the. Intricate storytelling. Um, the unexpected, uh, plot points and twists

Todd: the family dynamics,

Craig: the family dynamics, you know, I, I can, it appears to me that he has been influenced by this film in this filmmaker.

And I really like his stuff. So, uh, I don’t know. I, I hate to say this about myself because it’s a flaw in me, but I think that maybe it is the cultural divide that somehow prevented me from enjoying this as much as I could have. And again, that’s, that’s, that’s nothing about the film. That’s about me,

Todd: right?

I can understand that don’t feel bad about that, especially like you said, if you’re second guessing certain things, cause you’re not sure if it’s just a cultural thing or if this is supposed to be weird or, you know, whatever. Like you can be a little lost in that respect. I think, you know, for me, I was very comfortable in this world because yeah, it’s very similar to Japan where I lived for three years.

You know, this is, I mean, obviously Japan and Korea are two different countries, but they share a lot of similarities in the way that they live and their culture. And so, um, and I’ve been to Korea a number of times. And so a lot of this. This stuff. Wasn’t really a question for me. Uh, so it wasn’t a barrier, you know, to my enjoyment of the movie or understanding of the movie.

Like I could totally understand that it might, it might raise some questions and make it a little difficult for you to follow or, or really feel confident that you’re interpreting it correctly. Yeah, for sure. I loved it. I really did. And I’m not sure that it’s a movie I could have watched if I was really tired because it is a little slow.

I’m not to say that, like we said earlier, not to say that things don’t happen, but it’s just not, you know, action packed. Uh, but. I thought it kept my interest from beginning to end and I was pretty happy with the pace of it overall. And the two and a half hours did go by much quicker than I thought they would.

So I think if you are interested in this kind of movie after our discussion, you should definitely could go seek it out on Amazon prime, where it’s available for free. If you have Amazon

Craig: it’s it’s on shutter too. And yes, I would recommend this movie. Hands down, uh, especially to horror fans, but I, and I say this a lot, but also just anybody who’s, you know, appreciates well-made film because I do think that it’s very, very well made.

Um, and I think that it would have a lot of appeal for both horror fans and just fans of good filmmaking.

Todd: Great. Well, thank you again for listening to another episode. If you enjoyed it, please share it with a friend. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter. And also on our website too, guys, that red 40 net.com, please leave us a message and let us know what films you would like us to review in the future until next time I am Todd

Craig: and I’m Craig

Todd: with two guys and a chainsaw .


2 Replies to “The Wailing”

  1. Alec

    Another great episode! I really love the show and eagerly await every release. I listen to 50+ hours of podcasts a week (I work with my hands), and by now have heard hundreds of different podcasts. Yours is easily in the top 3 of all time (the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast is damn hard to beat.)

    Your banter is great, you have excellent insights into filmmaking, and no show makes me laugh out loud as much as this one.

    I would like to recomend a similar life-negating film from 2008, Home Movie. A family centered nightmare that disturbed me greatly, and that was before I had kids. I’m too afraid to watch it again now.

    Thank you for the awsome show! I am currently building a filmography to ease my daughter into horror films and you have given me so many great ideas.

    • toddkuhns

      Ah, wonderful! I’m adding it to the list for the next time we start feeling too positive about life. And thank you so much for the kind words, Alec! If you ever feel like it, feel free to drop a kind review on Apple Podcasts or one of the other review sites 😉

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