FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NOT SEEN “MIDNIGHT” YET, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW.
South Korean entertainment has finally hit the mainstream lately… but the country has been making incredible genre fare long before “Parasite” or “Squid Game” hit our shores. Since by Bong Joon-Ho “Murder Memoirs” and “Mother”youoh Jee Woon Kim’s “I saw the devil” and Park Chan-Wook’s “Old boy” and “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance”…South Korea has produced some of the most intense, atmospheric and horrifying serial killer thrillers of all time.
So whenever I hear of a new genre film making its rounds on the festival circuit… I can’t help but rush over to it. And now here we are, with director for the first time Oh Seung-kwan “Midnight”, which was just released in the United States with little to no fanfare. And that’s a shame, because even if it doesn’t reach the heights of the previously mentioned films… it’s still a cut above the rest in the genre and an extremely exciting debut, well worth seeing. .
WHAT MIDNIGHT EVERYTHING ON?
Fear grips the country of South Korea as a serial killer, (Wi Ha Jun), stalks its inhabitants. Kyung-mi, a deaf woman, is out late with her mother when she comes across a bleeding young woman in a dark alley. Now a witness to the killer’s brutal crime, Kyung-mi is ruthlessly hunted down. Will she survive or will she become his victim?
DOES THIS FILM BRING SOMETHING NEW TO ITS BASIC JOURNEY?
At first glance, we have seen so many movies like “Midnight” before. It’s basically a cat-and-mouse thriller about a serial killer stalking his prey. But just because we’ve seen this concept before doesn’t mean it’s already been done. exactly like that. It really all comes down to execution, and “Midnight” takes that basic premise and does so much. Whenever you think you know where the movie is going, writer-director Kwan cuts the rug out for you with another shocking turn of events. Just when you think there’s nowhere else he could go with this story… He laughs in your face and pulls a rabbit out of his hat. It may not have all the bells and whistles of other South Korean genre films, but it’s lean, which means the script maintains tension throughout its runtime.
ARE THE CHARACTERS CAPTIVATING?
What I think really does “Midnight” work, what is rare for this type of film is that the characters are actually interesting… and that you care about them. Rather than dumb, generic slasher victims… our unexpected leads are a deaf mother and daughter… who just end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Right off the bat, you understand their close bond, as they’re both constantly overlooked by their peers for their impairment…yet that’s what gives them their strength, resourcefulness, and resilience. We are also introduced to the older brother of our serial killer’s victim, who is desperately looking for his sister. And while his hubris gets in his way, he proves to be the perfect addition to this story, as his relentless pursuit and ferocity add a much-needed layer of white fist.
HOW IS SQUID GAME WI HA-JUN AS THE MAIN VILLAIN?
The star of the show, however, is squid game Wi-Ha June as the sadistic serial killer Do Shik. The talented young actor looked impressive in Netflix’s landmark series, but here he chews up the scenery and spits it out with a devilish grin on his face. Do Shik is absolutely terrifying and you believe he is capable of anything and everything. Jun takes this character to the edge of the cartoon, but shows enough restraint to hold back, just before he gets there. It’s an outrageous and utterly satisfying performance, and Jun really makes the most of it, creating one of the most memorable villains I’ve seen in a while.
HOW IS THE CRAFTS DISPLAYED?
The other strong point ofMidnight”, is pure craftsmanship on display. I was really shocked to learn that this is Oh-Seung Kwan’s first film. Because there is so much precision and polish shown here. The sound design is absolutely phenomenal. Similar to the Oscar-winning work in “The sound of metal, it’s put to good use by really putting you in the main character’s shoes to experience their silence. The lighting is also top-notch, the shadows of Seoul’s haunting barren alleys, the fear of what lurks just ahead in the dark; really adds to the tension. And there aren’t enough words in the dictionary to praise the propulsive camera work, which makes two people racing on foot feel as adrenaline pumping as a high-speed car chase.
ARE THERE ANY PROBLEMS WITH MIDNIGHT WHO HOLDS IT?
I have some problems with “Midnight”, which really prevent it from being one of the best of its kind. There were a few times when I felt like I had to throw all logic out the window, to believe the circumstances that were happening. Although many difficulties can be explained by the communication barrier between the public and our two leaders; a few moments felt really far-fetched, like they stretched that plot device too far.
And I, too, as depraved as that sounds, I would have liked to see a bit more of what this serial killer was capable of. While Wi-Ha June embodies this character perfectly… I would have liked him to leave more victims in his wake, for the violence to be more palpable… to amplify the bet even higher. Because of this, it doesn’t leave as much of an impact as it could. And in turn, feels a little less memorable than the classics mentioned at the start of the review.
Even so, Midnight is an absolute banger. And I hope genre lovers pick this one up because they certainly won’t be disappointed.
Midnight is now streaming on VOD.
For more reviews, be sure to stay tuned to this hashtag show!