Midnight review: Wi Ha Joon is a scary serial killer

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Kyung Mi and Wi Ha Joon in Midnight. (Photo: tvN)
Kyung Mi and Wi Ha Joon in Midnight. (Photo: tvN)

Length: 103 minutes
Director: Kwon Oh Seung
Cast: Jin Ki Joo, Hae Yeon Kil, Wi Ha Joon, Kim Hye Yoon, Park Hoon
Language: Korean with English subtitles

Available on Singtel TV and Starhub TV VOD service now

3.5 out of 5 stars

Midnight, one of the more impressively shot thriller films this year, follows the perspective of a deaf girl, Kyung Mi (Jin Ki Joo) who works at a call centre and services other deaf customers (who are apparently just as rude as regular customers). She dreams of going to the beach on Jeju island one day with her mother (Hae Yeon Kil), who is also deaf.

After storming out from an unpleasant client dinner where the men made misogynistic comments about her body, she comes face to face with an even bigger threat; a psychotic serial killer Do Shik (Wi Ha Joon) who targets helpless young girls and lures them into his van before killing them.

Kyung Mi and her mother make perfect targets for Do Shik, and although he decides to go after another girl So Jung (Kim Hye Yoon) instead, ultimately he turns his attention to pursue them as his prized targets. 

It's also interesting to note that Do Shik is a master manipulator, who can switch his expressions like a mask, not showing a hint of fear or unease when confronted with the police, and even pretending to be an innocent bystander who is looking for his lost sister at the police station.

Wi Ha Joon in Midnight. (Photo: tvN)
Wi Ha Joon in Midnight. (Photo: tvN)

Wi Ha Joon's performance is absolutely chilling and convincing as a serial killer, enjoying the hunt as he acts, wheedles and manipulates whoever stands in the way of his murderous pursuit. 

In one scene at a police station, he even attacks the angry and desperate brother Jong Tak (Park Hoon), the older brother of one of his victims, and even manages to convince the police that he was the victim instead.

Midnight also does really well in conveying fear from the victim's point of view. There are scenes from Kyung Mi's first person perspective, when she is being pursued by Do Shik, where there is absolute silence and the tension is ratcheted up several notches.

Director Kwon Oh Seung was also very creative in using props related to deaf people to create an intensity unique to the movie, like the noise lights in Kyung Mi's house which blinked rapidly when noise was created, or the noise recognition devices in her car (a nod to the ripples of water when a large T-Rex in Jurassic Park approaches) which filled a gauge as louder sounds were registered.

The movie also turned places in the public that are supposed to make one feel safe feel completely unsafe, luring viewers into a false sense of safety. The police station, Kyung Mi's home and even a crowded road and shopping district were all places where Do Shik pursued Kyung Mi relentlessly to great success.

Despite her haplessness as a person with a disability, Kyung Mi displayed a great deal of fear, anxiety and dread, and her immense courage in compelling a serial killer to focus on her is very commendable. Yet, the movie portrayed an unwillingness of the general public to assist disabled people and an ignorance of the challenges and prejudice that deaf people face on a daily basis, which is sad and frustrating when they are in dire circumstances.

Midnight is definitely a success in its genre and goes far beyond its purview to deliver a powerful message for disabled people.

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