31 Days of Reviews: Midnight FM (2010)

During a popular radio DJ’s farewell broadcast, she receives a mysterious call from a man who claims to have her family held hostage. She must adhere to his demands or they will be killed.

Throughout this entire 31 Days of Reviews for 2015, I haven’t reviewed a Korean film. Today, I decided to change that.

For those that know me well, it’s known that Asian horror films are some of my favorites. It’s a sub-genre that I hold very dear, citing it for many of my influences. This particular movie, Midnight FM, is not exactly a Korean horror film. It’s more of a Korean thriller. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t have its frightful moments. It’s definitely a nail-biter.

Midnight FM stars some familiar faces, particularly Soo Ae as the protagonist Ko Sunyoung. This is an interesting role for Soo Ae because at the time of its release in 2010, she was mainly known for playing roles in melodramas. This was one of her first appearances in something a little different, playing a strong female character in conflict with a strong villain, and she admits that it was a challenge. She does a good job in the main role in this film, convincingly playing a character that many would call cruel or heartless. As someone in the media profession, I’d say this is a very believable personality. Her character is very endearing.

Starring opposite our protagonist is Yu Jitae, playing a serial killer who is a very big fan of Sunyoung’s show. Yu Jitae is no stranger to playing the villain in films, with one of his most notable roles being the antagonist in the original Oldboy. In Midnight FM, he definitely portrays a convincing villain. He has a silent, giant appearance to him which makes his scenes with the children all the more terrifying.

This movie starts in a pretty hauntingly beautiful way. It was pretty standout for me, very chilling. The visuals are very beautiful. The viewer is in a car, traveling through black and white cityscapes, all while a radio DJ almost perfectly narrates the scene. Of course, we soon find that the DJ is talking about something else entirely, and we’ve been following a car which holds a kidnapped woman. It gets even weirder when her kidnapper stops the broadcast, revealing that it’s been on tape the entire time. The scene closes with the kidnapper presumably killing the woman, although it’s not explicitly shown.

At this point, we start to get deeper into the story and characters. We learn that our protagonist is a single mother, and she’s about to take part in her final radio broadcast before she takes a temporary retirement to spend more time with her daughter before an impending surgery. We learn that she’s had a past in broadcast, both television and radio, and through that time she’s made some enemies. It’s a pretty good set up for what the rest of the movie turns out to be.

The main conflict of Midnight FM comes when the kidnapper from the beginning of the film calls into her radio program and reveals that he has her family hostage. He claims that he’ll start killing them one by one if she doesn’t follow his demands. This is where the film got really scary for me. For the longest time, there really is no motive for why this person is doing this. His demands make no sense, just sounding like the ravings of a delusional fan. Anything slightly wrong in how his demands are met, and he snaps. As the film progresses, we get further into his psyche, and things get even more twisted.

Despite the fact that this movie is definitely a thriller, I’m glad to include it in my reviews for this month. It definitely has its scary moments, and I felt that it was a nail biter the whole time. It’s very suspenseful, a definite thrill ride. Of course, the film is in Korean with English subtitles. I definitely recommend it.

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