They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” - Luke 24:37-39
A 2016 Korean horror, The Wailing opens with this Bible passage, which instantly gives us some kind of an unsettling feel. Easily one of my favorite Asian horrors, The Wailing didn’t just scare the hell out of me. It made me reassess my faith.
Siguro, kaya masyadong effective ang Asian horrors sa atin ay dahil madalas sa hindi, umiikot ang kuwento sa pamilya. You won’t just get affected by the jump scares, the gore and such but you will also be invested in the relationships and the dynamics of a close-knit family. And being Filipinos, we relate too much to this.
The movie revolves around the four main characters - Jong-Goo, isang pulis na magiging masyadong ‘involved’ sa mga insidente ng pagpatay sa kanilang bayan, si Hyo-jin, ang anak ni Jong-Goo na magiging biktima rin ng possession, The Jap or The Stranger, ang dayong Hapon na siyang itinuturong dahilan ng mga nangyayaring kababalaghan sa kanilang bayan, at ang isa pang importanteng karakter - isang misteryosang babae na makikita sa simula na may mahalagang papel sa kabuuan ng pelikula.
Sa simula, hindi mo aakalaing horror ang pinapanood mo dahil sa ganda ng cinematography at characterization ng mga bida. Mabait at masayahin ang bidang pulis na si Jong-Goo, mapagmahal sa anak. Tipikal na tatay na gagawin ang lahat para sa pamilya. Just like a lot of Korean drama films, it starts normal, making the audience feel at ease and drawn to the characters.
Not until Police Seargent Jong-Goo and the rest of the police group gets shocked as as series of violent and strange murders start happening in their small town. Hindi lang dahil sa dumaraming kaso ng pagpatay ang nakakagulat kundi ang kondisyon ng mga pumapatay. The killers are suffering from some kind of mysterious disease where their skin gets boils and rashes. They also have the tendency to bite the flesh of their victims, just like what ‘zombies’ do as depicted in the movies. Mapapaisip ka, ano nga kaya ang nangyayari? Isinumpa ba ang buong bayan o may nakain sila o nainom na naging sanhi ng 'sakit'?
Ayon sa bali-balita, ang mga krimen ay gawa ng isang dayo sa kanilang pamayanan - isang misteryosong matandang lalaking Hapon na mag-isang naninirahan sa bundok. Known as “The Jap”, the townspeople believe that the old man has evil powers, which he uses to curse and kill.
Lalong nadagdagan ang problema ni Jong-Goo nang magsimulang makaramdam ang sarili niyang anak ng mga simtomas ng possession. Dito makikita ang pagbabago ng karakter ng bida, mula sa pagiging mapagbiro sa isang seryosong ama at pulis. He gets fixated with the case especially because it has already affected his daughter.
Basically, the story will revolve around Jong-Goo’s desire to capture “The Jap” and the family’s struggle to save his daughter from evil. It may seem like just any other exorcism film but it’s a lot deeper than that. A lot of interpretations can be made, depending on how you see it and where your faith is.
Ito ‘yung movie na pag-iisipin ka. As you go along, mapapaniwala ka sa ganito pero magbabago ang isip mo at maniniwala ka naman sa ganyan pero maiiba uli ang paniniwala mo bago ang ending. And when you get to the ending, you’ll ask yourself - what exactly happened? It's probably just me but I had to watch it a couple of times to be able to absorb all of it. My tip, do some research after watching the film so that you’ll be more open to other people’s interpretation.
The Wailing is a combination of religion, tradition and beliefs. It is slow burn. Kung gusto mo ng maraming jump scares, baka makulangan ka but the movie is definitely more than that. But if you are into Korean films that are deep and thoughtful, you should not miss it.
Did you know?
Korea and Japan has always shared political tensions for centuries because of the Japanese colonization in the early 20th century. Bukod sa issue ng comfort women, mayroon din silang tension sa mga disputed island sa South China Sea tulad din sa atin at hanggang ngayon, may xenophobic tendencies pa rin ang ilan sa isa’t-isa.
Some people would think that having a Japanese character as an outsider could be an issue at aware naman ang direktor nito. Pero ayon na rin sa kanya na hindi ganoon ang intensiyon niya. His goal is to show how hard, frustrating and frightening it is to communicate with a person you fear the most and having a Japanese actor as a Japanese is the best choice to do the job.
The Wailing Official Trailer: