MIDNIGHT is a serial killer thriller from South Korea. A shorter runtime than usual but a brilliantly portrayed villain. Also, the main protagonist is a young deaf woman. We screened this at Fantasia 2021. Read our full Midnight movie review here!
MIDNIGHT is a serial killer thriller from South Korea. In a somewhat unusual turn for South Korean genre productions, this movie has a runtime of just 1 hour and 43 minutes. More often than not, these movies have runtimes over two hours. Mostly due to a slow-burn style and a focus on character-driven stories.
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Continue reading our full Midnight movie review below. We screened this movie at Fantasia 2021 and it’s still playing at film festivals all over the world.
Being deaf in South Korea
I don’t know what it’s like to be deaf in this world. It’s my understanding that modern technology has made it easier in many ways since we communicate even more in writing or via screen instead of sound and voice. However, I’m not sure a deaf person would agree. Also, it appears being deaf in South Korea is very difficult.
Still, logic tells me that if you’ve grown up deaf (with a deaf parent to boot), you’ve learned how to handle yourself in a world of hearing people. That’s why I found myself increasingly irritated when the main protagonist – a younger deaf woman – continued to come across as helpless in even the most mundane situations.
At first, she was a tough girl who didn’t take any crap from her hearing bosses at a customer service center. Then she turned into this whiny and helpless person, which made no sense to me. Usually, South Korean movies excel at character portrayals.
For me, the story doesn’t do the young woman justice in the grand scope of things. Not even close! However, the issues about being a deaf person in South Korea were seemingly covered rather well.
Midnight has some misses but a brilliant villain!
This time around, the South Korean thriller felt like a subpar US thriller that wanted to create “drama and thrills” without any concern for the character arc of its main protagonist. There are scenes in this movie that are downright cringeworthy.
Oh, and I’m not just talking about the deaf characters. No, the hearing “heroes” are even worse. The villain, however?! One of the best I’ve seen in a long time. A classic villain to match some of the best from South Korean movies. And there are quite a few amazing villains to chose from!
The serial killer, Do Shik, is portrayed by Wi Ha-Joon and he is good. Like scary good! The way he can switch from coming across as charming and sweet to weak and harmless and then to the craziest serial killer psycho. It is absolutely brilliant in its elegance.
You may know Wi Ha-Joon from the horror movie Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018).
We screened Midnight during Fantasia 2021
This is the feature film debut for writer and director Oh-Seung Kwon. There is a lot of potential, but this director should forget about the TV movie thrillers from the US and focus on emulating the brilliant genre productions from South Korea instead.
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Another thing that irked me while watching Midnight was the fact that while this movie did play out around (and mostly after) midnight, there were so many people just going around shopping in the main street. Is that really normal in South Korea? Not out drinking, dancing, or eating but just kind of hanging out around 2 AM?!
It just seemed strange and as a huge contrast when these scenes were intersected with our characters being in abandoned areas just minutes later. Just wanted to mention it, since it came across as being very strange. Also, the police officers in this film are portrayed as being completely useless. Almost comically so.
In any case, you should definitely watch this movie for its crazy and sinister serial killer character. Just prepare yourself for some irritating scenes along the way and you should be very well-entertained.
MIDNIGHT has a Canadian premiere at Fantasia 2021 where we screened it.
DIRECTOR: Kwon Oh-seung
WRITER: Kwon Oh-seung
CAST: Wi Ha-jun, Jin Ki-joo, Gil Hae-yeon
A wave of murders hits the city. The media suspects foreign workers, but apart from speculation, there are no leads. After a longer-than-expected business meeting, Kyung-mi heads off to meet her mother, who is waiting for her at a remote location so that they can get together easily. Meanwhile, Kyung-mi is spied on by a mysterious masked man, who decides instead to follow a young woman, So-jung, who crosses paths with them. When Kyung-mi finally arrives at her meeting place, she sees So-jung bloody and asking for help. The problem is that she is deaf, just like her mother, and cannot call for help. Lurking in the shadows, the murderer, Do-sik, has just identified his new prey and sets off in pursuit. Her deafness makes her vulnerable, but she knows all the resources at her disposal and manages to escape to her mother. Knowing now the handicap of his future victim, Do-sik removes his mask and connects with them despite the presence of the police, patiently waiting for the opportunity to satisfy his murderous thirst.