The Wailing perfectly combines old superstitions and modern detective work – though mostly, it’s about fighting to protect the people you love.

Honestly, The Wailing (original title Goksung) could’ve been a mini-series with three episodes, but that doesn’t mean you won’t love watching it in one mind-blowing sitting. And really, it’s not uncommon for Korean horror movies to be a bit on the long side, so the 156 minutes [2 hours and 36 minutes] isn’t really that crazy.

Also, even though you could’ve tightened it up a bit and hit the two-hour mark, it doesn’t hurt the story that we linger a bit.

If you’re a fan of Korean horror and thriller movies, then I simply cannot imagine you won’t love this. Actually, it has everything you could want from any horror thriller. There’s the battle between good and evil, but always with the very clear message that while true evil exists, someone is rarely completely good. If we’re pushed, we respond with force and malice. Especially when the people we love are in danger.

The Wailing - goksung - hong-jin (Movie Review)

The Wailing is a very simple story of people trying to be modern and reasonable, but when enough strange things happen, you begin listening to the town elders. Also, you listen to stories and rumors that may endanger people, who are strange, but otherwise innocent. We all know it from watching the news; How quick we are to judge when something bad has happened. Especially when kids are hurt. So when the lazy, but very good-natured police officer’s daughter is hurt, his instinct is to protect her. No matter what it takes!

The acting in The Wailing is simply sublime. The Korean – and one Japanese in this case – actors and actresses are out of this world. This is some hardcore method type acting, where spit and snot is flying around when emotions run high. I’m continually amazed that while I don’t understand a single word being spoken, I know every single emotion being processed. Especially the lead character, Jong-Goo, is portrayed perfectly by Do Won Kwak.

Slow-burning, but relentless

The scenes tend to run a bit long, which is a huge part of why the movie is over 150 minutes and not within the typical two-hour runtime. But that’s the way it has to be. Trust me, it just works!

We’re not subjected to 20-minute long car-chases that might be giving your heart a workout and sweaty palms but do absolutely nothing for the story. No, we’re enjoying the emotions and culture that’s at the heart of the story. And you will not be bored, because something crazy is always just around the corner.

Writer-Director of The Wailing, Hong-jin Na, has made some of my favorite movies (Korean or otherwise) with The Chaser and The Yellow Sea. I’ll watch anything he makes. Obviously, this means my expectations are always set dangerously high, but with this movie, he definitely delivers yet again. And while I love that it’s on the long side, this is also the reason it doesn’t quite reach the top rating.

Please, give this movie a chance. Just like the other brilliant Korean horror thriller out now, Train to Busan, it’s only a matter of time before a Hollywood remake is announced.

The Wailing (aka Goksung) is out in limited release in the US while also playing at film festivals worldwide.


Director: Hong-jin Na
Writer: Hong-jin Na
Cast: Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang, Woo-hee Chun


A stranger arrives in a little village and soon after a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman is drawn into the incident and is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
Latest posts by Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard (see all)