Hello, dear readers! With Indie Horror Month rolling on, we have a pair of reviews featuring two great recent indie genre releases that have come out in the last few days: Kwon Oh-Seung’s South Korean thriller Midnight and the vamp-tastic Let the Wrong One In from Conor McMahon (whose Stitches has been a movie that I’ve been singing its praises for nearly a decade now).
Check out my reviews below and be sure to check in with us throughout the entire month of April for our 2022 Indie Horror Month celebration!
Midnight: In writer/director Kwon Oh-Seung’s nail-biter of a thriller Midnight, a ruthless serial killer (played by Wi Ha-Joon), is stalking the streets of South Korea every night in search of helpless female victims he can kidnap and torture for his own amusement. While the premise of Midnight sounds a lot like many other films of the same ilk, Oh-Seung finds some clever ways to infuse his story with some unpredictable twists and turns, delivering a viewing experience that often left my stomach in knots and made me angry (for all the right reasons).
As mentioned, a devious serial killer by the name of Do Shik is at the center of Midnight. He roams the streets looking for vulnerable women that he can claim as his latest victim. One night in particular, Do Shik kidnaps the unassuming So Jung (Kim Hye-Yoon) on her way home from a date as she talks to her overbearing brother, Jong Tak (Park Hoon), on the phone. But before he can dispatch of So Jung, Do Shik’s devious endeavors are interrupted by a young deaf woman named Kiyung Mi (Ki-Joo Jin) and her mother, (Kil Hae-Yeon), who is also hearing impaired. The two women find themselves being terrorized by the cunning Do Shik, who is so confident in his work that he doesn’t even break a sweat when he and the women end up at a police station for questioning. In fact, the scenario emboldens Do Shik in some very unusual ways, and from there, a perilous game of cat and mouse ensues. But Kiyung Mi isn’t exactly ready to become yet another statistic of violent crime, making the killer hot on her tracks extremely frustrated and even more motivated to hunt down the young woman and stop her for good.
There’s no denying that Midnight is an extremely effective thriller that feels like it almost sets out to break a lot of the rules that have been established over the years by the suspense movies from American cinema, and in that respect, I really admire it. But there’s a certain point in Midnight where it feels like Oh-Seung is needlessly over-complicating his otherwise wholly effective story, and I think that those choices ended up taking a bit of the wind out of the movie’s proverbial sail once everything culminates in Midnight’s finale. Beyond that, there is a sense of repetition in the latter half of the film, too, where it feels like Oh-Seung is repeating certain set pieces, resulting in a story that feels slightly held back by its running time in that sense.
But despite a few minor storytelling stumbles, Midnight features an array of excellent performances from its entire ensemble who leave it all on the table here, especially Jin who does a wonderful job of giving us a final girl that we can wholly invest in and root for as she does her best to survive against Do Shik’s merciless antics. And speaking of Do Shik, Ha-Joon is equally great here in Midnight, and his performance in this makes me even more eager to finally give Squid Game my time (I’m so behind, I know). Without a doubt, Midnight’s cast is one of the biggest reasons I’d recommend this film and for anyone out there who feels like they’ve “seen it all” when it comes to psychological thrillers, I do feel like Oh-Seung does a great job of finding new ways to surprise viewers with his efforts in Midnight.
Movie Score: 3.5/5
Let the Wrong One In: The only thing I love more than horror comedies are vampire movies, so when you happen to blend both of those subgenres together, I am a very happy horror fan. That’s probably why I adored Let the Wrong One In as much as I did - you can tell that with his latest feature, Irish writer/director Conor McMahon is just having a lot of fun with his material, resulting in a hilarious horror romp that wears its heart on its sleeve in a variety of ways.
Let the Wrong One In opens with a bachelorette party (or hen party, as they are called overseas) gone wrong when the inebriated bride-to-be Sheila (Mary Murray) is bitten by a bloodsucker, leaving her contemplating her future as a creature of the night. The next day, perpetual screw-up Deco (Eoin Duffy) stumbles home after a long night, where his younger brother Matt (Karl Rice) thinks that his sibling is once again all messed up after a night of partying too hard. As it turns out, the newly vamped out Sheila bit Deco and he’s hoping his brother can help him deal with the fact that he’s a brand new bloodsucker who desperately needs to feed. Matt, unsure of just how to help, reaches out for assistance from a local doctor, who also happens to be a vampire slayer (played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Anthony Stewart Head) and they team up to figure out how to stop Sheila and all the other vampires who have decided to lay claim to the city of Dublin as their new feeding and breeding ground.
From its title to the fact that the story revolves around one brother trying to the other brother deal with his impending vampirism to the involvement of Giles himself, Let the Wrong One In is truly a sublime celebration of vampire-centric pop culture, and there’s so much more going on in the movie that I haven’t even mentioned yet (like the Blade, Brides of Dracula and quite possibly even a Bunnicula reference to boot). Suffice to say, McMahon does an exemplary job of making something that is so infectiously fun that you cannot help but smile at all the blood-soaked shenanigans as they unfold. Something else that I also really appreciated about Let the Wrong One In was how McMahon created a vampire film that primarily takes place during the daytime hours, which isn’t something you see all that often, and the way that he works around that in terms of his characters being of a nocturnal nature is rather ingenious as well. LTWOI also has a ton of killer special effects and I enjoyed how McMahon turns Rice into his own Bruce Campbell, where he endlessly throws a ton of viscera and goo at his protagonist who takes it like a champ.
While the film’s momentum seems to dip in the second act, where it doesn’t necessarily feel like the story is advancing all that much at that point, Let the Wrong One In gets back on track during its final act and even left me laughing during its end credits where we get one last taste of McMahon’s humor that demonstrates his knack for being able to blend horror and hilarity with the greatest of ease. For anyone out there who is looking to sink their fangs in a new spin on some familiar territory, Let the Wrong One In should do just the trick.
Movie Score: 3.5/5
Go HERE to catch up on all of our Indie Horror Month 2022 features!