As Sheriff Brackett famously said in the 1978 Halloween, “Everyone’s entitled to one good scare.” With so many of us homebound and anxious, streaming services are coming in clutch and delivering incredible content. Shudder is leading the charge and their latest original film, 0.0MHZ, is a tonic. If telling ghost stories is in your wheelhouse of self-care, this South Korean haunting is the ideal film to curl up under a blanket with.
In 0.0MHZ, a group of university students goes to an abandoned and supposedly haunted house in the remote town of Uha-ri. They are members of a paranormal investigation club and are hoping to prove the existence of a ghost that uses radio frequency technology to speak to its victims. Predictably and horrifically, the murderous ghost is now haunting the students and it’s up to them to figure out how to banish the malevolent spirit… before it’s too late.
The film stars Yoon-young Choi, Shin Joo-Hwan, and Eun-ji Jung (who you may know from the K-pop group, APink), and is directed by Sun-Dong Yoo.
0.0MHZ is not a pretentious film. It’s not trying to do anything especially innovative. It’s not trying to identify as anything more than what it is, and what it is is a damn good ghost story. Ghost and haunting tales are woefully underrated in a current horror landscape that really digs body horror and slashers, of late. It’s refreshing to get back to the basics with a pure and simple ghostly spook.
The film hits all the notes of a classic creepy story. There is a haunted house sitting alone in a creepy forest. Within its walls a vengeful specter lies in wait, hoping for an unsuspecting innocent to come her way. 0.0MHZ has successfully created a film that feels streamlined and contemporary while being so timeless that it slips seamlessly into our imagination. It is everything you want out of a ghost story.
As I’ve mentioned already, 0.0MHZ is not trying to do too much. It’s a stylishly minimalist plot, executed beautifully. The film plays with ideas of matriarchy and generational strength in magic, but it would be a stretch to say that these threads are the focus. What it does do is provide 0.0MHZ with a very interesting and arresting version of the “final girl.” Pair all of that with gorgeous cinematography and a strong ensemble cast and you’ve got a winner!
I’m happy to report that there’s not much to critique in 0.0MHZ. Its straightforward narrative leaves very little room for tripping up, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its flaws. The film spends a lot of time building up this idea of a ghost that travels through the radio. Hell, it’s in the title of the film. For all of that buildup, it turns out that the radio frequency has very little to do with it.
Instead, the ghost is summoned via a ritual. It speaks using a radio once and only twice is the radio used to hint that the ghost is present. Honestly, at this point, the radio frequency aspect is just static in a perfectly good ghost story. Which is fine, because the film does well on its own, but it’s also a shame that we missed that opportunity to experience a more unique ghost story.
Speaking of ghosts, some things are best left unseen. The “Hair Ghost” of 0.0MHZ is shrouded in mystery. All we know is that she has red eyes, long black hair than ensnares you and that she has… lore… though we are not quite sure what that lore is. Moments of the film imply that the Hair Ghost is connected to personal tragedies of those she haunts. Another scene hints that she is taking out vengeance on men, for a wrong done to her. Any of the above would be interesting, but we never get more than just a hint. The air of mystery is part of the appeal for this particular ghost which is why, in my personal opinion, it was a bad step to give such a full reveal of her appearance at the end of the film. Note, of course, that this is a matter of personal preference more than it is a detriment to the film overall.
All of that being said, 0.0MHZ works. It is a fantastic ghost story. It’s an entertaining film. Shudder is to be congratulated for bringing us such a well-done horror. Don’t sleep on this one.
0.0MHZ premieres on Shudder on April 23, 2020.