Fantasia Film Festival: Midnight (미드나이트) Review


Midnight isn’t so much a thriller but a commentary on society’s treatment of disabled people. The film follows Kyung Mi (Ki-joo Jin), a deaf woman who inadvertently gets caught up in the affairs of a serial killer (Wi Ha-Joon). As much as people might think this could be another Don’t Breathe, it isn’t. This isn’t a movie where a deaf woman has the ability to fight off her attackers. Thus, she attempts to get help from strangers as much as she can — whether it’s cops or random strangers like you and me. Unfortunately for her, these random people would instead help out the serial killer than her. 

As Kyung Mi gets put through the wringer, this plot device gets used again and again. When you think Do Shik is about to get caught, he uses his charm to get out of it. Whereas Kyung Mi is pleading with everyone to capture him because he’s trying to kill her and his captured victim, So Jung. It’s easy to see why Do Shik gets away with so much because Wi Ha-Joon showcases a lot of charm on screen. Not to mention, Ha-Joon features a gripping Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of performance. He’s able to go from serial killer to normal mode on the drop of a hat. It’s truly a treat to watch.

Midnight isn’t so much a thriller but a commentary on society’s treatment of disabled people.

However, much of the problem with Midnight lies in the repetitive nature of the story. Do Shik getting away from capture just continually lessens the tension of the film. Director Oh-Seung Kwon is unable to build upon the suspense as Kyung Mi has to consistently avoid Do Shik’s advances. Instead of leaving you at the edge of your seat, you’re thinking to yourself, “he got away again?” On the other hand, much of the film’s suspense stems from the fear of Kyung Mi’s mother being killed. Her mother, who is also deaf, is not as naive as Kyung Mi, which makes her a huge target. Unfortunately, she’s not as capable of escaping as easily as her young daughter, so you fear for her safety throughout. 

All of this, of course, is leading up to the point where Kyung Mi realizes that to defeat Do Shik, she has to outsmart him. Because much like the rest of society, Do Shik believes he is superior because he doesn’t have a disability. However, just like A Quiet Place and Don’t Breathe, someone with a disability is not as helpless as they seem. Kyung Mi’s journey to this realization does take some time. The whole time you’re rooting for the survival of Kyung Mi and her mother. Both Ki-joo Jin and Hae-yeon Kil play their characters with such vulnerable likeability that you can’t help but root for them. So by the time, it gets to the payoff, you realize it’s well worth the wait.

Nevertheless, Midnight is a cat-and-mouse thriller that is severely lacking in thrills. While the odds are against Kyung Mi, there is never a fear that she’ll die in the movie. So once again, Midnight isn’t so much a thriller but a social commentary on the treatment of those with a disability.

Rating: 3/5 atoms

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1702 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.

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