The Wailing stone-cold and expecting a trend towards the histrionic. But once you know a couple more things - it's a South Korean possession thriller and it's from the director of the relentlessly high-strung thrillers The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, well, your eardrum's fates are sealed. And there are moments - a crash-car pile-up of exorcisms on top of exorcisms leaving a trail of chicken corpses in their wake - where it does get to be a tad bit much, when you step outside of yourself and look in at what you're looking out at.
Director Hong-jin Na is pretty good at keeping your focus reined in though - at keeping you there in the moment, utter hysteria be damned. The plot to this unwieldy thing careens all over the place and the mood is far more erratic than his two earlier films, but he's just keeping us guessing, and up is down for all I knew three-quarters of the way through. What's as clear as the devil's intentions though is a knife's been jammed into the heart of goodness itself here, and life and love and all decency's spattering out into the straw. Rot and junk rule, so stuff those goofy smiles away, people. Badness is roosting.