The script for “Spawn” is being rewritten by someone other than Todd McFarlane and that’s huge news!
When it comes to dark and suspenseful thrillers, South Korean cinema reigns supreme. Especially when serial killers enter the equation, with a cat-and-mouse chase that will irrevocably change all parties. Kwon Oh-seungthe first feature film by, Midnight, enters the pantheon of breathtaking thrillers, delivering a propulsive, unpredictable film, lighter than most of its ilk but no less intense or well put together.
After a long day of work, Kyung-mi (Ki-joo jin) meets his mother (Hae Yeon Kil). They discuss their travel plans while going into their usual nighttime routine, unaware that they both caught Do-Sik’s attention (Wi Ha-Joon), a mysterious serial killer who stalks their neighborhood. Do-Sik isn’t even done with his current victim, So-jung (Kim hye yoon), when targeting Kyung-mi, presuming that her deafness will make her an easy target. That’s before So-jung breaks free just long enough to lift Kyung-mi’s guard, triggering a twisted game where the killer hides in plain sight.
Writer / director Kwon Oh-seung never fails to find innovative ways to move the story forward at a brisk pace while taking unexpected turns. Much of this revolves around Kyung-mi’s fighting spirit and her forced adaptability thanks to a society unsure of what to do with her. After meeting the bloodied So-jung, she runs straight to a well-lit area that allows her to immediately call for help, but her hearing impairment means she can’t hear the police answering her call. The dark alley means she hasn’t seen her attacker well either. Enter So-jung’s brother (Hoon Park), desperate to find her, and a pair of ignorant but well-meaning patrollers, and you have an unpredictable scenario that forces Do-Sik to find new ways to escape suspicion and continue his pursuit.
The way the filmmaker uses space and systematically wedges his heroine makes Midnight come out. Kyung-mi escapes from an openly dangerous area during the triggering event, but then struggles breathlessly to shut down all possible means of escape, causing a brutal confrontation. The spaces that should provide security are corrupted. Thanks to an indifferent and uneducated public, the wide open spaces which should give our protagonist a respite leave her the most vulnerable. Kyung-mi and her mother are completely alone in this deadly situation.
Wi Ha-Joon is suitably disturbed; Do-Sik takes great pleasure in his unbridled violence. Ki-joo Jin does more than hold his place as a capable, quick-thinking but very vulnerable protagonist. The real star here, however, is in the sound design. He himself becomes a character. It is a question of both putting the spectator in his place with deafening silence or exposing his vulnerability by highlighting noises that he does not know how to make, thus triggering the danger.
While Midnight keeps you going in Kyung-mi’s constant attempts to escape and escape, he never gets as dark or as vicious as his contemporaries. Do-Sik spends much of the narrative trying to capture his new target, thus forgetting to finish off his previous prey in So-jung. It’s the in-depth reporting and sadistic portrayal of Wi Ha-joon that aims to sell how dangerous this character is. The more Kyung-mi thwarts Do-Sik, the lower the stakes. Low body counts and a more than capable heroine, despite many breathless storylines, begin to make Do-Sik look slightly incompetent after a while.
Always, Midnight keeps you invested and throws a dazzling and confrontational light on the indifference of society. Most importantly, Kwon Oh-seung impresses with a propulsive and thrilling debut that uses sound creatively. Even if the destination looks more like a safe bet, the journey to get there takes surprising and often intense detours that are easily worth it.