Writer-director Hong-jin Na has put together The Wailing, an epic, rather-long South Korean horror film that keeps messing with one’s head—to the point where it becomes hard to take.

A strange old man (Jun Kunimura) shows up in visions, and then is discovered in the flesh, in a small village where Jong-Goo, a hapless cop (Do Won Kwak), lives with his young daughter. Village residents start killing each other off and occasionally acting like zombies while covered with strange boils. Then, Jong-Goo’s daughter starts exhibiting symptoms of possession—setting Jon-Goo on a crazed mission to find the root of the evil pestilence destroying his town and his family.

Na makes things frightening without resorting to jolt scares or quick edits. The movie unfolds, sometimes slowly, in a way that maintains a high level of tension and creepiness. He mixes in some humor, even during some of the more grisly scenes. The movie is more than 2 1/2 hours long, and it makes you work—but it’s all worth it in the end.

Kwak is especially good as the father figure who thinks he has it all together, only to find out that any sense of security he assumes he’s giving his family can be wiped out in an instant.

The movie has a genuine nightmare fuel, and is another strong entry into the horror genre, which is experiencing one of its periodic renaissances.

Special Features: You get a couple of making-of featurettes.