Sequels are a tricky business in any sort of media. Sometimes they surpass the previous installment to the point where the previous installment loses its luster. Sometimes they fall short of expectations and ruin the original work. Sometimes they just remake their predecessor. Other times they go in a completely new direction.
Dreamcatcher’s “Good Night” is a direct sequel to “Chase Me”, the debut song after their reformation. It’s a continuation of the story-based music videos that have since become a staple of their group, sporting, once again, a timeless haunted feeling and a rock-pop track. In my article on “Chase Me” I stated the importance of a debut song being memorable, but I also said that the group could be forgiven for having some glaring problems with their first music video, on account of it being just that. So, where does “Good Night” fit in the realm of sequels? Is it a good video or a bad video? A worthy successor or a failed attempt?
The music itself is good, but more aggressive and less cutesy than “Chase Me” was, or than “Fly High” and “You and I” would be. It personally is a little too much rock for me, but still holds up. It doesn’t have a great vocal hook, but it still has a nice musical hook in the chorus. However the girls’ voices take on a raspier and more spoken quality. It isn’t my personal favorite of their songs, but it has some good moments – I particularly like the high notes best.
“Good Night” brings back the mid-20th-century style but brings in more elements that are 19th century or even medieval. The video has a different color scheme than “Chase Me” did, sporting more blue and varying degrees of pink and yellow, as opposed to the green, red, and gold. Both of these videos still make use of black, which makes sense as this is a horror style music video. Costuming for the girls is more along the lines of flowing dresses and skirts with varying skirt lengths, mostly long sleeves, and somewhat see through fabric at times. It seems though, from the long sleeves and often neck lengths of the dresses, this is a departure from the mixed sexy/cutesy concept from “Chase Me” – the plot of this video deals with malevolent spirits and it would not be appropriate to sexualize the girls in this context. (Of course, the skirts are extremely short and outfits more form-fitting in the dance segments, but asking girls to dance in full length dresses would probably cause injuries.) The girls appear to be more made-up, but not as pale as they did in “Chase Me” – instead, depending on the set and lighting, we get to see more gold undertones or cool undertones in their skin. All this aside, we can now break into the analysis.
The opening of “Good Night” is the closing scene of “Chase Me”, where Jo Donghyuk, an actor brought in for these music videos, breaks down the door of a hotel room to find a picture of the seven Dreamcatcher members, wearing all white, sitting like typical horror-movie dolls.
Donghyuk smiles ominously, we get a layered effect of film burn that looks almost like blood, before the song comes in with some ominous chimes. From here, the music video breaks into three segments, not including the dance pieces. These segments are the girls’ room, the forest, and Donghyuk’s room.
Donghyuk’s room is the starting point for the video, where he has a desk, two very tall bookshelves, two taxidermy deer heads, pictures all over the walls, and several candles. He also has an hourglass and a mirror, and a clock on the desk in a glass container. He pulls a book off his shelf, which has a leafy, natural texture on the cover, chains around it, and a skull for a lock. This book becomes a recurring motif not just in this video, but in other videos as well by Dreamcatcher. We’ll come back to this in a minute.
The girls’ room is where the most important story elements are, because what the girls JiU, Handong, and Dami do in this room in turn effect the events in other segments of the video. The room is an alternate version of Donghyuk’s room, with most of the same elements, just a few key differences. For one thing we see another cult ritual happening, this time with two skulls, one of which is on fire, an hourglass, several books, and more candles than a Yankee Candle store. Finally, the girls actually make use of the objects in their room as opposed to Donghyuk, who spends most of his time involved in his book.
The forest segments involve Siyeon, Yoohyeon, and SuA. Siyeon and Yoohyeon are pursued by two people in masks and hoods, and SuA is entrapped by wooden arms, almost skeletal. They seem to be coming from the tree, which begs the question why they’re doing that in the first place. Siyeon and Yoohyeon largely spend their time running away and hiding. At one point they make stick people from nearby sticks and hang them from the trees. It’s not clear if this is meant to be some sort of magic thing or just a distraction to let them get away but in any event it works.
If you’re wondering why I haven’t brought up Gahyeon, she’s largely not in this video for some reason, but she has a few moments. For one thing she gets to be in the girls’ room surrounded by bubbles, which is a cool image.
Then of course there’s the elephant in the room – her falling through space. Surrounded by books. And book pages. In a white dress. Yeah, it seems like even though we don’t get to see much of her, she has some crucial part in the story at play.
Anyway, the whole Gahyeon-falling-through-space thing is triggered by Donghyuk flipping to a particular page in the ritual book, as I’ll call it. He seems amused by it. Since this is a sequel, supposedly, to “Chase Me”, it seems like he wants to harness something that the girls have – maybe it’s their power or their souls. He still seems to be the protagonist of the story, but not one we should necessarily feel sympathy for.
JiU, Handong, and Dami, meanwhile, are not having it. They lurk in their world, by the mirror, watching Donghyuk read the book and occasionally messing with things in their world. At one point Donghyuk is flipping the book, when Handong appears on screen for an instant, peering through the mirror. Suddenly her eye is superimposed over everything and he’s forced to stop what he’s doing. He goes towards the mirror, only to see a glimpse of JiU in the mirror.
Not long after, we get to Dami reaching through the mirror to get the ritual book. The girls return to the circle and we see JiU burning the page that triggered the wooden hands on SuA, which then cuts to SuA surrounded by the burning arms, unscathed.
JiU, Handong, and Dami rip books off the shelves, which causes a whirlwind of papers inside Donghyuk’s room. Donghyuk walks towards the mirror, picking up a dreamcatcher, then looks back into the mirror, which is empty.
In between inserts, the video cuts to him, now entrapped in the mirror, with JiU, Handong, and Dami all looking at him, now wearing medieval cloaks. The final few shots of the music video are of the girls walking through the woods, all wearing cloaks and carrying torches. One of them (presumably Dami) drops the book, and we see the book on the floor of the woods as the music fades out.
“Good Night” is much harder to unpack than “Chase Me” because there is more going on, as well as a universe with rules that might be well-defined as far as the script is concerned, but are not well defined by extension to the viewers. When that happens it’s hard to differentiate aesthetics from actual story elements.
The color scheme is not nearly as bold as it was in “Chase Me” and not as memorable as it is in later videos, particularly “Fly High” and “You and I”. It does not differentiate particular segments of the video well, at least in terms of color. The biggest counter argument to this point is the fact that the inserts have a variety of color schemes, including pastel pinks that dominate the screen, and the two rooms are differentiated very slightly in hue. The girls’ room has always felt more blue to me, and Donghyuk’s room has always felt more purple. However, when I went back to watch the video so I could write this review, I realized that the rooms were mostly lit and colored the same, but the outfits of the characters were what I was focusing on – the black allowed the purple-ish hue to come through in Donghyuk’s room, and the light colors allowed the blue to be more visible in the girls’ room. They were also lit slightly differently, but more to keep light on the girls on the floor than to indicate an atmospheric change. So the two spaces have very few differences ultimately, which feels like a wasted opportunity – why not have more differences in the mirrored rooms?
The cuts are also extremely fast and the camerawork is more jittery. The sharp focus problem that “Chase Me” had comes back, only now we have weird blurring effects. So the video feels more artificial than Chase Me did, where it was still fairly consistent. We also have the wide aspect ratio, which makes these things stand out even more.
Of course, not everything about this video is negative. It has very compelling imagery and a clear feeling of a story. The dance routine is definitely powerful and the costumes, while I don’t like them as much as I like them in Dreamcatcher’s other videos, they do give the sense of who these characters are and make you feel intrigued. The sets are good, despite the poorly distinguished color grading. And the girls, of course, come across very well. Their inserts show a lot of personality and make you want to watch the video more. So while the film doesn’t do the best job it could have, it still does well insofar as making you want more.
“Good Night” hammers in the fact that something is going on with the members and that Donghyuk seems to be intrigued by it. He seems to know a lot about who these girls are but not anything about their abilities or how the magic works, and yet he definitely wants to harness their power. The ritual book is ultimately what makes this clear, at least to me. He seems amused and intrigued by the book, as if it holds answers. Furthermore, when he opens it and flips to pages, that’s when we see Gahyeon falling and SuA being attacked by a tree. He doesn’t appear to be causing these events but his ambivalence thereof seems to be a factor in why they’re still ongoing.
However, JiU, Handong, and Dami are consistently working at something, which ultimately appears to be bailing their friends out of their situation. I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re “higher up” or “more powerful” than their fellow members in this video but they seem to have more of an understanding of how their world works and how to manipulate it. That said, all seven of them seem to have some understanding of how to manipulate this world. SuA and Gahyeon seem victims of the world but that might just be because driving plot points of seven different characters is a tough thing to do. But the girls in the room clearly understand the magic at play, and Siyeon and Yoohyeon know how to get away from the people who are chasing them.
Why they’re being chased is ultimately unclear, and it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the fact that their previous song was called “Chase Me”. My money is on the chasers being general demons of the mirrored world. They are definitely trapped in that world against their will, but it is not apparent as to whether or not they ever get out of it. It appears that they do, or at least begin some sort of journey out of that world. If we presume that they’re dead, then maybe the mirrored world is some sort of purgatory or hell, and they have to move on, be it to heaven or to a reincarnated life. We don’t have much to go on to that end but it is a possibility.
“Good Night” tries to be more original than “Chase Me” was but falls short of its predecessor. However, that might have been beneficial to Dreamcatcher. “Fly High” came out not long after “Good Night” and that video has a lot of original elements, traditional horror, and K-Pop staples, making it a beautiful video. “Good Night” put the pieces in place for Dreamcatcher to explore more original ideas into their later videos, while still giving them a lot of room to grow. It is a great sequel in that respect, because it makes the viewer want to see more, and that, ultimately, is what a music video is there to do.