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0.0 MHz (2019)
Directed by Sun-Dong Yoo
Written by Jak Jang (manga), Sun-Dong Yoo
Starring Yoon-young Choi, Shin Joo-Hwan, Eun-ji Jung, Won-Chang Jung, Nan-Hee Kim, Sung-yeol Lee, Jung-Hee Nam, Myung-shin Park
Blending both American and Asian horror together to make one potent stew of supernatural goodness is Shudder’s new K-horror film 0.0MHz. The title has something to do with the perfect frequency to make contact with the other side, but that’s not really the point of this one. It’s all about spooky atmosphere, deft direction, and a clever way of blending horror aspects we’ve seen in other films into one fun ghost adventure.
A group of ghosthunters naming themselves 0.0MHz is gearing up to film a new episode of their show in a haunted village that is guaranteed to be filled with ghosts. Joining then are newcomers, Soo-Hee (Eun-ji Jung) whose relatives were shamen (and sha-women) and her Friend-Zone-stuck tag along Sang-Yeob (Sung-yeol Lee). When the investigation goes sideways and one of the members becomes possessed with a bitter ghost that once haunted the village, the team is forced to leave. But when the evil presence follows them home, they are forced to return to the village once more to battle the restless spirit head on.
0.0MHz proves to be splendid mix of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, EVIL DEAD, THE GRUDGE, THE EXORCIST, and Korean shamanism seen most recently in the excellent South Korean film THE WAILING. Some embellishments springing forth from those inspirations are wildly entertaining such as when the shaman beats the hell out of a possessed woman with a leafy tree branch about 100 times. Director Sun-Dong Yoo adapts the manga by Jak Jang with a lens that seems to dilute some of the best parts of the movies listed above and map them out into a film that feels derivative, but utterly entertaining. Details such as trying not to fall asleep lest they unleash a demon and the age old exorcism matchup between demon and holy man, along with the cabin in the woods setting might cause eyes to roll hard if this were in the hands of a less capable director, but Sun-Dong Yoo never stops for long before peppering in a jump scare, a moody transition, or some kind of odd imagery to instill a constant feeling of creepiness.
Across the board, the cast does a great job, with Eun-ji Jung leading the pack as the shy shaman gal So-Hee. Later in the film, she plays dual roles and makes both extremely distinct and fun. I also really enjoyed Yoon-young Choi as the possessed Yoon-Jung as she gives an extremely physically exhaustive performance full of body twisting, screaming, laughing, and killing. The rest of the cast are likable and given a lot to do outside of simply following the lead of the plot.
This is a film about a “hair ghost” which some might not really understand if you’re not too familiar with Asian horror myth. Seen in lesser known horror films such as HAIR EXTENSION, it is a ghost that kills with its writhing, snake-like, animated hair. The effect of the twisting and twirling hair as a deadly weapon is a fun and unique one with the hair grabbing people and flowing into their ears, eyes, and mouth in order to possess them. Otherwise, she kind of looks like a cross between the creepy JU-ON ghost and the RINGU girl, basically it’s a creepy woman with hair dangling in front of her face—an image we’ve seen a time or two before. When the ghost’s face is seen, it is quite disturbing and there are more than a few sequences where the ghost’s eyes used in a downright chilling way. That said, the effects in this one are not Hollywood caliber. They look a bit more like animation than real twisting hair. There is also a few shoddy CG scenes where the kids are driving in a car that are obviously done with green screen background that I found to be distracting.
0.0 MHz isn’t as powerful as South Korean horror classics as BEDEVILLED, THE WAILING, and I SAW THE DEVIL, but it does have some fantastic and frightening sequences. It does look to have borrowed heavily from a lot of films we all know and love, but does so in ways that are forgivable due to the talented cast and the director’s skilled eye. Director Sun-Dong Yoo puts forth a solid, classic story of good vs evil that fundamentally works on most levels.