By JOHN CARTER JR
Tiger Media Network
In a world where the differences between one person’s accessibility and another’s can determine their quality of life., navigating a world not tailored to you or your needs can be especially challenging when it comes to the discrimination you may endure due to your specific circumstances. All the regular struggles of living your everyday life on top of the struggles inflicted by a society that doesn’t have the proper support systems for your needs weigh down on you. Eventually you learn to cope and you learn to find a way to live your life. People who have to live in a world that isn’t built for them already have the cards stacked against them, this can potentially lead to a feeling of defeat or potentially resilience. A resilience that is unattainable by people who do not endure the struggles. If being chased by a serial killer, one who has the ability that Society benefits, will people respond in defeat or will their resilience kick in?
Midnight” (2021) directed by Kwon Oh-seung tells the story of Kim Kyung-mi (played by Jin Ki-joo) a deaf woman who has an encounter with a serial killer Do-shik (played by “Squid Game” and “Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum” actor, Wi Ha-joon). The story is a psychologically thrilling chase where our main protagonist attempts to escape the grasp of a manipulative killer. There are different moments throughout the film where Kim Kyung-mi tries to get help but due to her deafness people do not take her seriously or make a serious attempt at understanding her. This is used as an advantage by Do-shik. Even amongst a crowd of people she was unsafe, the people who could hear Do-shik’s voice were convinced by his false persona. However, by the end of the film she is able to outsmart the monster, (without spoiling it) by putting him in a position that reveals his murderous intentions to everyone.
While the film is certainly a high-stakes thrill-fest meant to intrigue the audience and keep them interested all throughout, it’s layered in the overarching message that people of different abilities, backgrounds, circumstances, or needs all deserve equal respect or treatment. The film shows us the truth concerning different people in that people are valuable, capable, matter, and are resilient. Kim Kyung-mi is an intelligent person who survived an encounter with a vicious monster, she represents people in the world who are often misunderstood and not taken seriously. It is important to have this kind of representation on screen. That being said, while I certainly enjoyed this film and will highly rate it, I do have one criticism that stands out compared to the rest: the main protagonist’s casting.
While actress Jin Ki-joo plays an amazing final girl, she is not a deaf actress. It would have been a positive statement, with the overarching message of capability, if the character had been played by a deaf actress. As a person who isn’t deaf, I cannot accurately say whether or not her portrayal of being deaf was on point or not, but I would say that her performance portrayed a deaf person in a positive light.
“Midnight” is a frightening Korean psychological Thriller that represents a stepping stone in the progress of representation in film in terms of the characters created for its story. The one major problem that stands out is in its casting but overall it conveys a story of resilience, overcoming, and the equal value of different people. The villain and heroine are excellently portrayed and the means by which Kim Kyung-mi overcomes Do-shik make this film stand out as one of the most satisfying thrillers to start and finish. In the future, I hope for more representation of people with different abilities not just in horror films but in film at large, for more positive portrayals of people with different abilities or backgrounds, and for the casting of people who experience those circumstances in real life in roles which elevate their visibility.