Unless you’re a K-Pop fan, Shudder’s latest paranormal horror film offers not a single thing new or interesting.
Here’s the good news about 0.00 MHz: it provides excellent background filler. Do you have some laundry to fold, or a pantry to organize? Put this on. Close attention is not required, because if you’ve seen any other demonic possession movie, you’ll be able to fill in what you miss when you’re sorting change or darning socks. Based on Jang Jak‘s popular South Korean webcomic, 0.00 MHz borrows heavily from nearly every other well-known movie in the paranormal horror genre, with the glossy-yet-cheap look of a mid-tier video game. At times it seems like it might almost be parodying western horror, right down to the occasional use of Dutch angles, but it’s also mostly humorless. More than anything else, it’s just dull, offering nothing to hold the audience’s attention except for lackluster debut acting performances from K-Pop stars Jung Eun-ji and Lee Sung-yeol.
Jung plays college student So-Hee, who joins the fellow members of a paranormal research club on a trip to an allegedly haunted cabin. They’ve barely left before she starts feeling uneasy, and it’s soon revealed that she can see ghosts. This would seem like an important thing to mention when you’re part of a paranormal research club, but she doesn’t, probably because the other club members are kind of obnoxious, and appear to have spent a large amount of time and money studying something they don’t actually believe in.
Nevertheless, the group, working under the theory that 0.00 MHz is the frequency brain waves need to be at in order to communicate with the dead, set up a curious experiment involving both high-tech neurological monitoring and crude witchcraft using cow livers and voodoo dolls. The sacrificial lamb for the experiment is Yoon-Jung (Choi Yoon-Young), the skimpily dressed extroverted counterpart to the shy, almost frumpy So-Hee. She’s almost immediately snatched away and possessed by some sort of hair demon that takes over its victims by wrapping them in bad CGI tendrils that move of their own volition, and looks like a giant Cousin Itt when it appears at the end of the film.
0.00 MHz borrows heavily from nearly every other well-known movie in the paranormal horror genre, with the glossy-yet-cheap look of a mid-tier video game
After Yoon-Jung is rescued and the group returns home, they discover that the evil being in the cabin has clung to them like a bad case of hotel bed bugs. It wants revenge for…well, it’s not really explained, and doesn’t matter anyway. I could tell you more, but that’s really about it, and you could easily guess everything else that happens, because it’s all been done before. Do a bunch of callow young adults go to an isolated cabin in the woods, foolishly ignoring the warnings of the locals? Check. Does a member of the group hilariously prank the others? You bet. Do the scariest moments in the movie turn out to be nightmares? Oh, indeed. Does it have a gotcha! ending? For sure. Is there a creepy dead kid? Check, check and check.
0.00 MHz is a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie, sewn together with pieces of Friday the 13th, The Exorcist, Paranormal Activity, Poltergeist, and Evil Dead. There’s even a little bit of Aliens present, when one character is revealed to be a Burke-like creep who blithely (and inexplicably) plans to sell out the rest of the group for a quick buck. Does he meet a gruesome end? Of course he does, how could he not? If he didn’t, that might be something we’ve never seen before.
Other than the concept of our brains being the most susceptible to communicating with spirits when we’re in R.E.M. sleep, which is barely explored, not one single thing in 0.00 MHz is original or interesting. Given K-Pop’s passionate fanbase, it’s likely that audiences will want to see it mostly for Jung and Lee, but they barely make an impression. Even before she leaves for the trip to the cabin, So-Hee looks unhappy and uncomfortable, in a way that suggests Jung herself wasn’t comfortable with her performance. It has the air of a contractual obligation, and she and Lee do the best they can with clumsy dialogue that often consists of one character saying something, and another character responding with a puzzled “What?” When your actors look like they know they’ve signed on to a clunker of a movie, and are all but glancing at the nearest exit in desperation, you’ve got a serious problem.
Shudder has become a treasure trove of both original and classic horror, including an expansive library of Asian horror (such as the far superior Train to Busan). There are literally hundreds of movies you could watch there that are more entertaining than the lazy, derivative 0.00 MHz. On the other hand, if you just want some mindless noise that you can somehow keep up with without having to watch more than five minutes of it, 0.00 MHz is a winner.
0.00 MHz premieres on Shudder April 23rd