There it was on Netflix, with a quite positive rating, and there I was, wanting to watch something semi-decent, and a little South Korean horror sounded just fine. And this was fine, only quite long and without much of an immediate payoff. Oh, and no wailing that I recall. Perhaps they meant psychological wailing, or something.
So policeman Jong-goo is called to the scene of a grisly murder. A few people have been killed in quite gruesome ways, and the killer, a member of their family, is there in a stupor with a bloody rash and white eyes. Jong-goo is haunted by what he sees, and we hear (and see) images of a Japanese stranger who lives in the woods, feasting on corpses with blood all over his body and scarily effective red eyes.
Jong-goo has a very cute young daughter [played by a very good young actor] who obviously adores him, and he is, in what is apparently a tradition in South Korean films, a bumbling, not-very-bright cop with a heart of gold. He has some silly adventures, makes some dumb mistakes, abuses his authority, and is in general a big lovable dumb boob, a type also seen in The Host and Memories of Murder [which seems to exert a large influence on this film, and YOU MUST WATCH]. The mixture of comedy with dead serious horror stuff is also the same as in those films. Anyway, soon it becomes apparent that Bong-Joo’s daughter is the next victim of the killer—who is looking more and more likely to be an agent of the supernatural—and the rest of the movie is his increasingly-desperate measures to catch the killer and save his daughter.
There are some tremendously scary scenes, and even more extremely creepy ones. However, as with most of these movies, this one goes on for well over two hours, enough for the momentum to slowly leach out, while placing increased pressure on the climax to be worth it all. And in this case… the ending might come off as a trifle disappointing. That’s how I felt, although upon reflection of what was really going on there and all its implications, I quite like it. There’s not a lot of action at the end, but once it’s over and you sort through everything that happened, it’s pretty badass. I don’t want to give anything away.
So ultimately, quite good, and worth a watch. Too long, yes, but so is life, and like many lives, devastating at the end.