GRIMMFest 2021: MIDNIGHT Film Review

Hae-yeon Kil and Ki-joo Jin in Midnight (2021)

Hae-yeon Kil and Ki-joo Jin in MIDNIGHT (2021)

Intense and action-packed, MIDNIGHT is a grim take on a cat and mouse plot, with enough twists and turns to have you on the edge of your seat throughout

5 out of 5 stars

Director and screenwriter Kwon Oh-Seung brings his debut feature film MIDNIGHT, a South Korean high suspense serial killer thriller, to Manchester’s GRIMMfest this week.

Set in the unlit and empty backstreets of South Korea, MIDNIGHT throws out a sinister twist and toys with film noir while highlighting the key societal challenges Kyung Mi (Jin Ki-Joo) faces in her daily life as a deaf woman.

Such struggles are emphasised for the audience as Mi and her mother (Kil Hae-yeon) – also deaf – attempt to escape the rath of the devilishly handsome psychopath killer Do Shik (Wi Ha-Joon). On a vicious killing spree from his minivan of horrors, Shik won’t stop until his killing itch has been scratched.

Ki-joo Jin in Midnight (2021)

Ki-joo Jin in MIDNIGHT (2021)

Oh-Seung doesn’t mess around in the film’s opening moments, catapulting viewers into an intense first scene. A young woman walks the deserted, darkened streets of South Korea alone, missing the last available taxi, a stranger offering a lift and a voice crying for help from the stranger’s car.

Oh-Seung’s opening moments come at full force, only offering occasional snippets of calm before hurling you back onto the high-octane ride as the plot unfolds.

Spoken in Korean but with English subtitles, it only adds to the audience’s suspense experience of this gripping thriller as you frantically read each line of dialogue while catching the action on screen.

You may recognise Ha-Joon from the notoriously successful SQUID GAME, yet his character here has many more layers. Ha-Joon confidently portrays a psychopathic, sadistic killer who gets great enjoyment from deceiving law enforcement and putting on the many masks he wears throughout the film.

Ki-joo Jin in Midnight (2021)

Ki-joo Jin in MIDNIGHT (2021)

Ha-Joon does exactly what you’d want from an onscreen killer; we hate him and are praying for his demise, but all the while applauding Ha-Joon for his portrayal. Fantastic acting.

Wang San-Jung makes clever work of putting the audience in Kyung Mi’s shoes; we hear (or don’t hear) danger coming, which takes the suspense up a notch if you can bear to believe it.

Jin Ki-Joo’s trepidation is infectious, and knowing the character cannot hear danger lurking puts you on edge. What is apparent throughout the film is the characters’ experience of South Korea supporting disability awareness. Often the mother and daughter’s cries for help go unheard.

This grim take on a cat and mouse plot boasts enough twists and turns to have you on the edge of your seat throughout. It’s action-packed, intense, and tearful at times with sharp twists, which will have you jumping at the screen screaming for the characters to RUN! A must-see.

MIDNIGHT screens at GRIMMFest 2021 on 7 and 8 October, or virtually on 16 October. Take a look at the full festival schedule.