Midnight (2021) – Blu-Ray Review

Midnight is the latest entry in the continuous influx of South Korean thrillers helped more recently by renewed interest in South Korean media due to the blockbuster success of Parasite and Netflix’s Squid Game. This film in particular is being completely sold on the fact that Wi Ha-joon plays the serial killer in the film, an actor who gained international fame from Squid Game.

The most interesting aspect about Midnight is that it’s told through the perspective of a deaf-mute mother-daughter. Jin Ki-joo plays the daughter, Kyung-mi, who works as a sign-language counselor at a call centre. She is the highlight of the film. Ki-joo is very charming, and some of the best scenes are at her place of work: a video call that goes haywire with a deaf caller is particularly funny. The thriller aspects are perfectly competent, but I have to admit that as the film went on I became less interested. The depiction of the cops is hilarious, however, because they are complete idiots, which is probably more accurate than many would like to admit.

Midnight is a perfectly enjoyable serial killer thriller that passes the time. It’s a debut feature from Kwon Oh-seung, and makes an impressive calling card for a director who is bound to go on to make bigger and better films, so keep an eye out for his name. Wi Ha-joon is having a ball playing the killer, but while audiences will probably come for his performance, hopefully they will stay for Jin Ki-joo. The screenwriter and director could probably have used some consultation from the Deaf community—it’s a film clearly from an outsider perspective, although it’s not offensive by any means and seems well-intentioned. Really solid location work gives the back-alleys where the killer finds his victims a genuinely eerie feel, especially in the first act.

The Blu-Ray release from Eureka includes an audio commentary track from film historian Kat Ellinger and a video essay on the history of Korean horror cinema by critic Travis Crawford. The booklet features new writing by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. Finally, the release is currently available in a silver laminate O Card slipcase featuring new artwork by Grégory Sacré (Gokaiju). 

★★★

Ian Schultz

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