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When village cop Jong-gu (Kwak Do-won) gets woken before dawn and summoned to the scene of a suspected murder, his wife persuades him to stay at home and have a proper breakfast first. This paunchy put-upon sergeant clearly isn’t cut out for serious police work, which may prove to be his undoing. As his hometown convulses in an outbreak of violent crime, committed by locals who appear to be possessed, Jong-gu’s response to the situation isn’t so much bumbling as dangerously incompetent.

There’s something deeply sinister going on in “The Wailing” (original title “Gokseong”) and I’m reluctant to divulge too much, because this is a film that’s best enjoyed without prior knowledge of what’s in store. If you’re planning to see it — and if you appreciate superior genre cinema, you really should — I’d suggest you consider this entire review a spoiler and go peruse the sports pages instead.

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