Midnight Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Dread Presents
Written and directed by Oh-Seung Kwon
2021, 103 minutes, Not Rated
Released on April 5th, 2022
Wi Ha-Joon as Do Shik
Ki-joo Jin as Kyung Mi
Kim Hye-Yoon as So Jung
Park Hoon as Jong-tak
After accidentally disturbing a serial killer during his routine, a young deaf girl and her mother find themselves targets of his wrath. Chased down by malicious murderer Do-sik (Wi Ha-joon), Kyeong-mi (Ki-joo Jin) finds herself trapped in a brutal game of cat-and-mouse, hindered by incompetent cops, ambivalent pedestrians and the killer’s sinister machinations. With the Seoul city police force and general public proving to be utterly useless at best – and pawns in the killer’s game at worst – Kyeong-mi must rely on her own wits to save herself.
Squid Game star Wi Ha-joon is chilling as the smarmy serial killer, manipulating the ignorance and social unawares of those who stand in his way; hiding in plain sight in a police station; posing as the brother of a victim. Do-sik doesn’t even appear to be a particularly good liar, but cynically manipulates a culture’s preponderance on politeness, and its inability/unwillingness to listen to those who cannot communicate through conventional methods. A sequence in which Kyeong-mi is stalked by her would-be killer on a bustling plaza gives the film its most upsetting chills.
It’s a shame that the title The Chaser had already been taken, back in 2008. While there was a lot of chasing in Na Hong-jin’s earlier serial killer thriller, it’s positively sedate when compared to this one. Written and directed by Oh-Seung Kwon, Midnight is effectively one long chase sequence, pausing periodically for Do-sik to make menacing threats and lies. If anything is learned here (other than that you should really try to listen to people), it’s the importance of cardio. As the three lead characters pound the streets of Seoul, Midnight’s action is exhausting to watch – slowing down only for the situation to worsen in fresh new ways.
At 103 minutes, the pace is frantic, but the structure repetitive; twenty minutes of people running up and down dingy alleyways. As a result, the film feels a bit longer than it really is, and some of the obstacles thrown at Kyeong-mi tend to frustrate instead of thrill, as they should.
But through it all, there’s a fascinating dynamic between heroine and villain, and a heartbreakingly sympathetic performance from lead Ki-joo Jin. Oh-Seung Kwon's attempts to pull on the heartstrings are obvious but effective, culminating in a great showdown between the killer and his would-be victim. Hae-yeon Gil and Park Hoon, too, do great work as the doting mother and thuggish military man, respectively.
Even as it frustrates, Midnight’s relentlessness is to be admired. After all that running, this slick action thriller will leave you breathless.
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