Korean Serial Killer Thriller Brings Nonstop Action and Chills at Midnight (FANTASTIC)
First Non-Festival Release: June 30, 2021 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Oh-Seung Kwon
Writer: Oh-Seung Kwon
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Starring: First Three Actors on IMDB Page + Anyone Else Relevant
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Fantastic Film Festival 2021.
After a long day at work and trip out to get drinks with her company’s clients, Kyung-mi (Jin Ki-joo) is on her way to pick up her mother (Gil Hae-yeon) and return home. She’s feeling particularly heated after taking the abuse of her clients with a smile despite them mocking her Deafness and muteness. As she is parking her car, she inadvertently crosses paths with a serial killer (Wi Ha-Joon) in the process of deciding his next victim, which turns out to be So Jung (Kim Hye-Yoon) who is on her way back from a date and not returning her older brother’s (Park Hoon) calls. With no one to listen, Kyung-mi must rely on her strength, resilience, and intellect if she intends to survive and save those she loves.
A tense cat-and-mouse serial killer thriller, Midnight is one big chase scene stretched out in the most terrifying of ways.
Wi Ha-joon gives a knockout performance. His fluidity between charming, deranged, and everything in between is indicative of his massive talent. It’s hard not to fawn over a character like Do-shik. He’s terrifying. Normally, I’d want more out of his motivations, but it is honestly scarier with it so ambiguous. Regardless, Do-Shik is nightmare fuel for those of us terrified of more mundane and realistic psychopaths. Jin Ki-joo does great work opposite him as a capable, if traumatized, woman fighting for her life. I appreciate that she carves her own path here and acts how most people would if confronted with a terrible situation.
The real terror behind Midnight comes to life through clever scriptwriting and filmmaking. A great use of and lack of sound helps heighten the tension and mimic what Kyung-mi is experiencing throughout the night. It gets even more terrifying when Kyung-mi realizes this and becomes hyper aware of how she engages with her environment. There is only one scene that I felt should have been cut or pared down by the editor which involves Kyung-mi begging for her life. It doesn’t match the tone of the rest of the film and dragged on for too long. Beyond this, every scene feels necessary and adds to the overall quality of the film.
Relentlessly tense and energetically filmed. Midnight is one long chase sequence played out over the course of the night. It is filmed appropriately with as many dynamic and lonely sprints throughout the oftentimes empty city. It’s a subtle way of showing how there are so many people close by that could help Kyung-mi but either choose not to or are unable to do so. It’s a great supplement to its greater commentary on how inaccessible life is for the Deaf community.
Showcasing the failures of society to accommodate for disabled individuals, Midnight elevates the horror by tying social issues with its thrills. There are so many moments where if anyone had a modicum of sensitivity, they would have been able to communicate with Kyung-mi and her mother. There’s also the aspect of who society is more inclined to believe over another. Do-shik is a vicious serial killer who morphs like a social chameleon to prey upon vulnerabilities, manipulate crowds and authority figures, and trick his victims into falling right into his trap. He’s so much scarier than a movie monster because it’s real. In fact, one scene reminded me of a famous story about Jeffrey Dahmer.
Midnight is a dark serial killer thriller that is going to take everyone by surprise once it gets its full release in the states. For those that are aching for a film that relies mostly on the wits of an easy-to-root-for protagonist, Midnight will hit their expectations out of the park. Strong acting, brisk pacing, and fully fleshed out characters make this import one that should be on your radar immediately. Run, don’t walk, as soon as Midnight is available to you; God knows that the actors did enough cardio to make this film possible, it’s the least you could do!
Overall Score? 7.5/10