The Wailing (2016)

  • Gist: In scary-rural South Korea, a chunky police sergeant investigates a sudden series of grisly killings.
  • Eastern Gothic: All the feel of great Southern Gothic horror, probably due to cultural coincidence, not imitation. Sparse, backward communities scattered among thickly forested hills are just plain frightening whether in Korea, north Georgia, eastern Oregon, or Purgatory.
  • Religion: It helps to know that the majority religion of South Korea is Christian (55%) but traditional shamanism is thoroughly intermixed–another point of contact with American Southern Gothic.
  • Racism: It helps to know that Japanese, due to their imperial oppression of Korea, are somewhat vilified and mistrusted. Also that Koreans and Japanese do NOT look alike or speak mutually intelligible languages.
  • Beats: Suspense-horror fans will find the beats familiar, but not cliche. It starts mildly tense and funny, then builds steadily into a supernatural thriller.
  • Did somebody order a shaman?: I may start a ninth career as a shaman! You get to dress cool, burn stuff, act crazy, and scare the actual hell out of people. That or a K-pop star.

Conclusion: If you like suspense-horror and don’t mind subtitles, turn the lights down some night and give it a go. Available on Netflix.