Thursday, April 23, 2020

Shudder: 0.0 MHz

In Korean horror movies, Shaman exorcist have a lower life expectancy than red shirts on Star Trek. So-hee is an exception who sort of proves the rule. She is the moody daughter of a shaman, who has a bit of the shine herself. Those are all classic “final girl” indicators. Seriously, she really should have known better than to go out stirring up a supernatural hornet’s nest, but she lets her paranormal investigation club do it anyway in Yoo Sun-dong’s 0.0 MHz, which premieres today on Shudder.

The club is called “0.0 MHz” because that is supposedly the frequency at which the human brain can make contact with ghosts, or some such silliness. Regardless, So-hee does not seem to have much interest in ghost-chasing, so it is hard to see why she signs on for their latest field trip. Nebbish Sang-yeob aspires to be a horror novelist and not-so secretly carries a torch for her, so his presence makes sense. Yoon-jung, the party girl, is out for a good time, while their charismatic leader Tae-soo and the jerkheel Han-seok are both out to score with her. Unfortunately, they have chosen a really sinister location: the isolated house in the mountains that was the scene of the disastrous exorcism during the prologue.

Frankly, 0.0 MHz is pretty standard stuff, but it works better just because it is K-horror and has trappings of shamanism. In fact, the film picks up significantly during the second act, focusing on Yoon-jung’s possession. Choi Yoon-young really ought to be in a different film, because her performance as the bleached-blonde Yoon-jung is way more fun than anything else in 0.0 MHz.

In contrast, K-pop star Jung Eun-ji is rather lifeless and underwhelming as So-hee. Most of the guys are not any better, but at least Shin Joo-hwan grouses about with snarly energy as the contemptible Han-seok.

To be fair, Yoo deserves credit for several good decisions, starting with his avoidance of shaky-cam. Despite the club’s many posted cameras, 0.0 MHz never uses the found footage conceit. He also clearly recognized Choi was working and went with her. Nevertheless, his adaptation of Jak Jang’s web-comic is about as formulaic as horror gets. (Yet, there is something perversely reassuring about tried-and-true genre conventions at a time like this.) Recommended for Korean horror fans (who will appreciate the scenery chewing of Choi and Shin), 0.0 MHz starts streaming today on Shudder.