Vampire Owl: There are not many mediums that vampires can use at midnight.
Vampire Bat: I am sure that we can use an Ouija board at midnight instead.
Vampire Owl: That board is a fake medium invented by humans.
Vampire Bat: So, you think that there is no hope with the board.
Vampire Owl: Yes, we need to look forward to finding an undead conductor.
Vampire Bat: You cannot have any of the undead allow something from the other side to pass through it.
Vampire Owl: The undead is greater than any spirit.
Vampire Bat: Getting possessed by a spirit is not a great experience.
Vampire Owl: So, you think that there can be possessions.
Vampire Bat: Well, you know the thing about demonic possessions.
[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of Munnar tea].
What is the movie about? :: Kim Kyung-mi (Jin Ki-joo), is a mute and deaf woman who works as a sign language customer service executive at a sign language call center. Her mother Kyung-mi’s mother (Gil Hae-yeon) is also dumb and deaf. As some of the employees have to go for a dinner with the clients, she chooses to go with her employers and return late at midnight. Jung-eun’s (Kim Hye-yoon) goes out on a date at night, and her brother Jong-tak (Park Hoon) who works as a security guard after serving in the army, is worried because she would arrive late, almost at midnight, especially as a man and woman were found dead during an earlier night. Coming back home late after dinner and visiting her mother, Kim witnesses the sister bleeding after being stabbed by an unknown man and becomes the new target for this particular serial killer Do-sik (Wi Ha-joon) who had been hunting women, and sometimes unsuspecting men some time around midnight. She runs further away from the area when her mother is standing and tries to hide, but the killer is someone who knows the area really well.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The killer needs to find the young woman to make sure that there are no trails that lead to her. At the same time, Jong-tak is in the streets, searching for his sister who has not returned home yet. As Kim reaches her car and enters it, she is shocked to find him inside the vehicle, and after being forced to drive at knifepoint, she jumps out the car, once again chased by the killer, only to connect to the cops, but as she cannot sleep, it does not work at all. When the police finally arrive, it seems that the killer had already manipulated all the evidence, and there are no suitable clues in the CCTV cameras either. The killer had also joined them in making things more confusing for the mother and daughter duo. As the brother also arrives in the police station with the photo of his sister, Kim identifies her as the woman who was abducted, stabbed and kept in the vehicle by the stranger. But the killer is someone who knows when to manipulate and when to kill with all the brutality – does this mean that the killer will go on with the murders and the sister and the witness would also have to die?
The defence of Midnight :: In the beginning, this movie might seem to be just another serial killer movie with its antagonists targeting random people on the streets, but it becomes much more than that, as it uses almost everything at its disposal to the best effect. The night itself has been used to its best advantage, and this is also not the kind of movie when there is a long investigation going on, and the police has to go for clues which they acquire over days, and the result is that there would be more victims. Instead, this movie has so many thrilling moments set in a night, which has the serial killer’s smartness displayed in an interesting manner, but we are not bothered with the flashbacks or the motive that would have been there in other movies – this becomes more of a survival movie where there is the need to make sure that a missing woman survives, and at the same time, the leading lady further struggles to survive. As things unfold with a night that progresses, there is the idea that two of the main characters cannot speak and hear, which drives this movie to bringing things to light in a different manner. There is no shortage of thrills around here, and silence is nicely used with sound effects in a visual treat of terror.
Positives and negatives :: There are moments when one would feel that the movie could have elevated the status a little bit. But the final moments are just too good, as finally the serial killer understands that more than one person can play his game. The movie is a survival thriller for the main protagonist, and Jin Ki-joo, with her performance, has us backing her to survive against all odds. The characters do no get to be that smart as they should be though, as they create opportunities for the killer to come back and get them, multiple times. There are many co-incidences in here too, and those are used a little more than needed. But there is no shortage of the feeling of danger around here, as night seems to be used as a medium for the serial killer terror to spread – it always seems that he is in control, even when he gets beaten up. We did not know about this movie when it released, but we know it now, and we have that serial killer whom we have been waiting. The movie is also a reminder that in a busy world, nobody has time to check on others, and a serial killer could always be hiding among us, undetected until captured.
The performers of the soul :: Jin Ki-joo is leading lady and the protagonist of this movie, and she comes up with a performance to remember as the woman who cannot speak or hear, but has to rise above her limitations as she faces one of smartest and most brutal serial killer who is good at hiding his motives. She has presented the character so well that the audience keep believing that she has no hope, but continues to see that slight ray of hope that she could stay alive despite the odds being very much against her. She seems to be better known for the South Korean television series and the drama, but the way in which she displays the hopelessness and fear to replace it with courage, is something that will catch our eyes – the ending with her character gaining the advantage is too good. Wi Ha-joon makes a fantastic serial killer, and I won’t be surprised if someone would try to copy this character, as the killer works so well. Park Hoon also join in very well. Then there is Gil Hae-yeon who comes up with the mother figure really well. At the same time, Kim Hye-yoon is lovely addition, and becomes the reason for the events of the movie to start moving forward.
How it finishes :: Midnight is a reminder that Korean films still possess the top quality with horror thrillers featuring serial killers. It will be a good idea to watch the movie on Amazon Prime Video before someone from Bollywood copies the film and shows it as a much lesser version with the brother of the victim and the girl who witnesses the crime dancing to songs at a party while the serial killer kills the abducted girl, and we would also have to listen to some very sad songs with the brother grieving for the sister. The quality of this movie will always be higher as it does have all the emotions, but never does it overdo them, or come up with irrelevant subplots or exaggerating the villain. We directly enter this world which is all about that particular night, and the audience is also as much part of the events that happen during midnight, and everyone goes on this journey with the main characters. You are also reminded that you need to go back to these kind of movies, and even though we do have our own serial killers with films like Forensic, Anjaam Pathiraa, Memories and Antakshari, but none so classically determined in the form of a stranger as this one.
Release date: 30th June 2021
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Kwon Oh-seung
Starring: Jin Ki-joo, Wi Ha-joon, Kim Hye-yoon, Gil Hae-yeon, Park Hoon, Kang In-seo, Noh Su-min, Na Eun-saem, Lee Jae-seok, Park Ji-hoon, Song Yoo-hyun, Bae Eun-woo, Kwon Young-min, Jung Wo Chang
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