By JAMES TUCKER
Starring: Eun-ji Jung, Sung-yeol Lee, Yoon-young Chi
Directed by Sun-Dong Yoo
Written by Sun-Dong Yoo, Jak Jang
Produced by Smile Entertainment, JM Culture, Spotlight Pictures
It’s a good time to be on Shudder. Joe Bob Briggs has just returned in Season 2 of “The Last Drive In,” Shudder’s excellent “Cursed Films” docuseries is finally complete, and they’re dropping “Wolf Creek” Season 2 before long (which I’ve been waiting for forever). Of course, I’m not covering any of that (at least not now); but this week in the Sematary I WILL be covering Shudder originals, and one that just dropped that piqued my interest as soon as it hit the platform was the new Korean paranormal horror flick 0.0HZ.
0.0HZ follows So-Hee (Eun-ji Jung) and Sang-Yeob (Sung-yeol Lee) as they join a ghost hunting club looking to prove the existence of the supernatural. Their theory is that if someone allows their brain waves to fall below a certain frequency while they sleep (can you guess what frequency that might be?), that person will come into contact with the spirit world. All they need to test that theory is a haunted house to stay the night in, and so they travel to a nearby village and stay at a broken-down estate where a young woman died by hanging. After pissing off a local who warns them they “will go to hell for what they’re doing,” they investigate the estate, set up cameras Grave Encounters style, and prepare Yoon Jung (Yoon-young Chi) to undergo the experiment and (possibly) get in touch with some ghosts. What happens in that house will force everyone to reckon with their past, and So-Hee in particular will have to embrace a part of herself she’s been running from all her life to save her new friends.
“0.0HZ is entertaining but familiar, never going beyond reiterating tropes to give itself a distinct identity.”
Listen, 0.0HZ is fine. It’s a well-crafted, well-acted chiller that travels though almost all of the well-established clichés in the subgenre. The central concept, that allowing someone’s brainwaves to inhabit a certain frequency will get them in touch with the spirit world, will remind viewers of films like Flatliners; it really only serves as a catalyst for the film’s events and isn’t used to take the film anywhere unique. Instead it launches into a scenario similar to Ghostwatch or Grave Encounters, and later shifts towards a typical possession arc a-la Taking of Deborah Logan or Lovely Molly. The film has slight hints of an underlying mythology that would have differentiated it and given it an identity apart from the classics it’s channeling, but when everything gets unveiled in the third act… well, even that is not all that different from what came before. Calling this film Flatliners meets The Conjuring is probably a spoiler, but the biggest thing the film has going against it is that you’ll probably have guessed that long before the film shows its hand.
Don’t get me wrong, this film had its moments. The opening sequence contains one of the better kills I’ve seen in this genre, with a would-be exorcist getting pinned to the ceiling and twisted into an unnatural configuration. The characters were likeable for the most part and played believably by the actors, and the ways in which the ghost manipulated them and used their trauma against them made the film marginally more interesting. And while a lot of the scares were cribbed from other films, they were pulled off realistically and effectively; many of the possession effects (stretching mouth, shuddering spiderwalk, etc.) were shockingly effective for scenes I’ve seen more times than I can count, and one particular CG-based shot of the ghost was also well-rendered and eerie. There were a couple of effects that were less impressive, like a CG explosion that looked like it was produced by a Halloween lawn projector, but generally everything was well executed. That, in the end, is what keeps this film just above watchable and makes it a solid, relatively entertaining experience.
I’m giving 0.0Hz a five. Maybe a six if I’m feeling generous. This feels like a solid meat and potatoes paranormal horror flick, but the bland kind, the kind you used to get in your school cafeteria or the kind that you get in a prepackaged box at Wal-Mart. It’s satisfying enough to do you for one night, but it definitely won’t be something you want to eat again or tell others about. This is a good movie to turn on late on a weeknight when you’re looking for something that’s familiar, but you haven’t seen yet. Not a bad way to pass a night in the middle of the apocalypse.
Stay safe out there, and I’ll be back with “Boar” this Friday.