South Korean cinema reigns first when it comes to unrelentingly gloomy and scary thrillers. Especially when serial killers are involved, resulting in a cat and mouse chase that will permanently alter all parties involved. Midnight, Kwon Oh-debut seung’s feature, joins the pantheon of suspense films, providing a fast-paced, surprising thriller that is lighter than most of its genre but no less gripping or well-crafted. Kyung-mi (Ki-joo Jin) meets with her mother after a long day at work (Hae-yeon Kil).
Midnight, a South Korean serial killer thriller, has a lot of energy
While going about their nighttime routines, they discuss their plans for a trip, unaware that they’ve both grabbed the attention of Do-Sik (Wi Ha-Joon), a mystery serial murderer who’s been prowling their area. Do-Sik hasn’t even finished with his current victim, So-jung (Kim Hye-Yoon), when he turns his attention to Kyung-mi, assuming that her deafness will make her a simple target. That is, until So-jung manages to break free just long enough to raise Kyung-guard, mi’s igniting a bizarre game in which the killer hides in plain sight. Writer/Director Kwon Oh-seung is always coming up with new ways to keep the plot going along at a fast pace while taking unexpected turns. Much of it centres around Kyung-tenacity mi’s and forced adaptability as a result of society’s inability to deal with her. She heads directly for a well-lit place after her meeting with the bloodied So-jung so she may call for help right once, but her hearing handicap prevents her from hearing the police answer her call. She didn’t get a good view at her assailant either, thanks to the dimly lit backstreet.
With So-brother jung’s (Park Hoon), who is determined to find her, and a pair of inexperienced but well-intentioned patrolmen, Do-Sik is forced to find new means to avoid suspicion and continue his quest. Midnight stands out because of the filmmaker’s use of space and relentless cornering of his heroine. In the inciting event, Kyung-mi flees an outwardly dangerous-looking region, but then works feverishly to shut down all available escape routes, resulting in a horrific showdown. Spaces that should be safe become tainted. Wide open places that should provide a respite for our protagonist become the most vulnerable due to an indifferent and misinformed population. Kyung-mi and her mother are completely alone in this dangerous situation. Wi Ha-Joon is properly insane, and Do-Sik revels in his out-of-control aggression.
Ki-joo Jin holds her own as a skilled protagonist who is both quick-witted and vulnerable. The sound design, on the other hand, is the genuine star here. It takes on a life of its own. It uses deafening quiet to put the audience in its lead’s shoes while also exposing her fragility by accentuating noises she doesn’t realize she’s making and thereby sparking danger. Midnight keeps you engrossed in Kyung-relentless mi’s attempts to avoid and escape, but it never becomes as dark or cruel as its contemporaries. Do-Sik spends the most of the story attempting to capture his newest prey, forgetting to finish off his old prey in So-jung. Background news stories and Wi Ha-sadistic joon’s characterization are intended to sell the character’s threat. The longer Kyung-mi keeps Do-Sik at bay, the lower the stakes get. Despite several thrilling scenarios, Do-Sik begins to look rather stupid after a time, thanks to a low corpse count and a more than capable heroine. Midnight, on the other hand, keeps you invested while shining a harsh, confrontational light on society’s indifference. More importantly, Kwon Oh-seung dazzles with a fast-paced, exhilarating debut that cleverly employs sound. Even if the goal appears to be a safer bet, the road there takes unexpected and frequently intense diversions that easily make it worthwhile.
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