For some reason, this movie only has a 4.6 on IMDB and I have no clue why. South Korean horror is unique, at least from our Western perspectives. It’s often dark and portrayed in such a way that we’re not used to seeing. Films like The Wailing, The Host, and Thirst are perfect examples of this. It’s not necessarily the supernatural or horror aspects that stand out, but how they’re woven into the narrative. In the case of 0.0 MHz, it’s an angry spirit against a group of college students.
Now, we’re all familiar with this plot type. Teens are often the target for spirits in films, and in real-life accounts of possession. This is likely thanks to the natural turmoil, resentment, and internal conflict that go through young minds as they make the transition from child to adult. Based on the comic by Jak Jang, 0.0 MHz, written and directed by Sun-Dong Yoo, is about five college students who visit a haunted house as part of a research project.
This is something that I really like about this film. These kids are morons for sure, but at least they have a reason and it’s not the usual “we just want to see if ghosts are real” reason. Their project is to test brain waves during the REM cycle while the sleeper is either inside a haunted building or a building they believe is haunted. I bet you can imagine how bad their experiment goes.
0.0 MHz balances ghostly horror and human terror
0.0 MHz is a mix of things. It’s not the best ghost movie but it’s certainly different. In a good way. For one, it expands the characters beyond their first names. They have backstories, personalities, and motivations; they’re well-rounded kids that seem to accept the existence of ghosts almost immediately. They come to a mutual agreement regarding the threat pretty quickly. This opens the door for more fleshed out individual stories and more time to see the after-effects. The film is essentially split in half, with the first hour being the beginning of the haunting and the second hour the actual story.
A worthy adversary
One detail in particular that stands out is the movie’s villain, the Hair Ghost. Accurately nicknamed for the incredible mass of hair that hangs over her face. At first glance, she’s nothing but a generic ghost figure tormenting people from the shadows but she is not noncommittal. Her methods of killing and her specific hatred of “the men” of her village ensure this. The Hair Ghost has a backstory that involves suicide. She was a mentally ill woman who hung herself, yet maintains a hatred for her village and the men in it. This implies something unresolved about her past and no matter how brief the moment is, it gives her a slight human side.
Grief has a big role in this film. As do most ghost stories, but something about 0.0 MHz just stands out. There’s a lot going on and a lot of subplots that are never explored but sprinkled like powdered sugar onto a lemon bar. It’s disturbing in a unique way, and it seems to revel in this fact. It might be the way the characters treat the spirit like an irritating person rather than a supernatural presence. At one point a young shaman, So-Hee (Eun-ji Jung) performs a ritual to expel the spirit that results in her scolding, then beating it while it’s inside a host.
All this leads me to say that 0.0 MHz is a great film, but at its core, is just like any other ghost story. Still great though. For those curious, the film’s title, 0.0 MHz, refers to the frequency of human brainwaves required to communicate with spirits.(3.5 / 5)
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