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The Wailing Explained

The Wailing is a 2016 South Korean horror film directed by Na Hong-jin. Set in a small rural village in South Korea, the film follows the story of a police officer and a mysterious stranger as they investigate a series of supernatural events and murders that have been occurring in the village. The film combines elements of horror and superstition, exploring themes of morality and the power of tradition. This article will provide an overview of the plot, characters and relationships, superstition and tradition, and themes of morality in the film. In addition, an analysis of the film will be offered.

Plot Overview

The Plot Overview provides an overview of the narrative events that take place in the story. In the South Korean mystery-thriller, The Wailing, a strange illness begins to spread throughout a small rural village. This illness is accompanied by ghostly spirits and supernatural forces, which have locals believing it to be the work of a malevolent spirit or demon. A mysterious stranger, who identifies himself as a shaman, arrives in the village and begins to investigate the paranormal occurrences. Through his investigation, it is revealed that the source of the strange illness is an ancient evil, which is slowly consuming the villagers. The shaman then devises a plan to save the village, but it comes with a high cost. In the end, the villagers are able to save themselves from the evil spirit, but not without making a great sacrifice.

Characters and Relationships

Characters and Relationships are integral components in understanding the context of the story. The Wailing is centered around the relationship between a police officer and a mysterious stranger, who is believed to be a supernatural being and the cause of the mysterious deaths in the village. The police officer is a typical rural cop, who is tasked with finding the mysterious stranger and stopping the deaths. He must also look after his daughter, who is the main victim of the mysterious deaths. His neighbor and friend is a shaman who helps him understand the rituals and cultural beliefs that are integral to the story.

The relationship between the police officer and the shaman is complicated and the two must come to accept each other’s differences to solve the mystery. The shaman is a mysterious figure whose knowledge of the spiritual realm is essential to the police officer’s investigation. At times, the shaman appears to be an ally and at other times an enemy as he has his own agenda. He helps the police officer understand the rituals and cultural beliefs that must be respected in order to resolve the mystery. Ultimately, their relationship is key to understanding the events of the film.

Superstition and Tradition

Superstition and tradition play a significant role in the events of the film, as the characters must come to terms with the spiritual realm in order to solve the mystery. Folklore and death rituals are both integral to the story, as the mysterious deaths in the small village are attributed to a powerful creature from the local superstitions. The characters attempt to understand the concept of curses and rituals, as they try to find a way to protect themselves and their family from the creature.

The superstitious beliefs of the local villagers are a major source of conflict within the story, as the characters must decide whether to believe in the myths or find a more scientific solution to the problem. The traditional customs of the area are also seen in the various death rituals that are practiced by the villagers, such as burying the dead in a particular manner and burning effigies on the graves. The film ultimately shows how superstitious beliefs can be both a source of comfort, as well as a source of fear and confusion.

Themes of Morality

Morality is a major theme throughout the film, with characters facing difficult decisions as they grapple with their beliefs, superstitions, and traditions. The Wailing captures the loss of innocence in the face of supernatural forces, as a small village is beset by a mysterious and deadly illness. The main character, a police officer, is forced to confront his own moral code as he attempts to save his daughter from a similar fate. As the story progresses, he is drawn into the spiritual and supernatural world and must confront his own guilt complex for his inability to protect his daughter.

The film offers a commentary on the power of superstition and tradition, as the villagers are torn between their beliefs and the practical solutions offered by the police officer. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that the supernatural forces are too powerful for the villagers to resist, and they must confront the moral implications of their actions. The film’s conclusion illustrates the power of morality, as the characters must ultimately choose between the traditions of their culture and the consequences of their actions. The Wailing serves as a reminder of the importance of morality in decision making, and the power of superstition and tradition in shaping our beliefs.

Analysis of the Film

The Wailing offers a complex and provocative exploration of morality, superstition, and tradition, with characters facing difficult decisions in their attempts to make sense of the mysterious illness that has befallen their small village. The film’s director, Na Hong-jin, uses a combination of supernatural horror, psychological drama, and moments of dark humor to craft a nuanced story that is both thought-provoking and entertaining.

The film’s narrative is structured in a way that allows viewers to explore the characters’ inner thoughts and motivations. In particular, the main character, Jong-Goo, is a sympathetic figure whose decisions are driven by his need to protect his family and village. His struggle to make sense of the situation is further complicated by his complex relationship with his daughter, his wife’s grief counselling, and his own spiritual beliefs. Through this, viewers are able to understand the complexities of the characters’ moral struggles and decisions.


The Wailing is an intense exploration into the depths of human fear and superstition. It is a film that challenges societal norms and encourages viewers to think about morality and tradition. By examining the relationships between the characters and the underlying themes of superstition, tradition and morality, the film offers a powerful and thought-provoking narrative. It is ultimately a story of courage and redemption, a reminder of the power of faith and hope in times of darkness. Despite its dark and complex themes, The Wailing is an important story that will remain relevant for years to come. It is an engaging, emotive and powerful film that will leave viewers with a unique perspective on life and death.

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