A bad day becomes an even worse night in Kwon Oh-seung’s thrilling debut MIDNIGHT, a tense cat-and-mouse chiller with a difference. A Deaf customer service counselor and a pitiless serial killer explore the nooks and crannies of nighttime Seoul in a film that embraces and subverts genre codes at the same time. Capturing a breathless narrative with a camera that sticks close to its characters as they dash through the night, Kwon’s film marries impressive technical merits with timely social themes.
The Deaf Kyung-mi works as a sign language counselor at a call center, and she’s having a pretty lousy shift, which leads to a boozy after-work BBQ with some odious clients. On her way home she picks up her mother who also has a hearing impairment, yet it isn’t a quiet evening that awaits them – far from it. While she parks her car and her mother waits outside, a killer prowls the area looking for his next target, but the young woman he catches and stabs escapes his clutches and pleads with Kyung-mi to help her. Kyung-mi does what she can for her, but in doing so inadvertently becomes the killer’s new target. So begins a long and terrifying night as the vicious serial killer stalks a resourceful young woman through the dark and twisted alleys of Seoul.
Dark streets are no place to walk alone, and for a young woman who can’t hear her killer’s approach and who has trouble communicating with the people she meets after the witching hour, they offer no escape from a grisly fate. But this is one young woman who refuses to go quietly into the night. (PIERCE CONRAN)