Monday, January 6, 2014

Review: Midnight F.M. (2010)

Midnight F.M. (Review)
Kim Sang-man/Soo Ae/2010
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime 

"...a nonstop thrill ride."

Ko Sun-young (Soo Ae) is the popular DJ for Midnight F.M., a midnight radio show. On her last night as DJ before she leaves for the United States, Sun-young is threatened by a mysterious fan, Han Dong-soo (Yoo Ji-tae), who has taken her family hostage...

Midnight F.M. continues as Dong-soo demands Sun-young play songs from his playlist, which consist of music and monologues she's played in her previous shows. Dong-soo has her family hostage, including her mute daughter, so Sun-young has to work quickly and accurately -- and, she can't tell the police or leave the studio. Of course, mistakes are made and the stakes rise, creating games of hide-and-seek and cat-and-mouse. The antagonist's reasoning is also creative and interesting. Although a bit predictive and reliant on some plot contrivances, the film speeds to a suspenseful ending -- there is a cheesy one-liner, though, which doesn't really fit the mood of the film.

Midnight F.M. is really a pure-breed thriller. It starts off with some light suspense and foreshadowing, then explodes into a nonstop thrill ride. There are a few scenes with fabricated suspense, but the rest of the film really keeps a tense and gritty atmosphere. I'm especially impressed as Midnight F.M. moves at a ferocious pace while keeping its momentum strong. This is a dark thriller, by the way, like many South Korean thrillers -- not everything ends happily and some scenes may surprise you. There are a few plot contrivances that I did not enjoy, hurting the film's realism and really only present to push the story forward. There is also a very cliché and predictable character arc.

Soo Ae delivers a strong performance with a solid range of emotion -- only some happiness, but great anger and sadness. Soo Ae also has a great voice for radio. Yoo Ji-tae delivers an equally impressive performance as the sinister villain. The film is shot beautifully, especially the scenes with great use of color and lighting; it can be a bit dark, and some of the camerawork was occasionally sloppy, especially during the action sequences. The music is also well-fitted for the film and keeps the suspense up. I enjoyed Kim Sang-man's direction, he keeps the film consistent and well-paced, and pulls a lot from his cast.

Overall, Midnight F.M. is a great thriller. It's a thrill ride with great suspense and two great leads. Although highly entertaining, some of its predictive elements and plot contrivances were weak and worth noting.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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