Movie Review by Almiro Jorge
Starring: Han Suk-kyn, Shim Eun-ha, Jang Hang-seon, Yum Jung-ah, An Seok-hwan
Director: Chang Youn-Hyun
One by one, a series of black refuse bags filled with body parts begin to show up. Exquisitely severed limbs are packed into the liners with dismembered bodies of different victims making them difficult to identify. Disgraced cop, Detective Cho (Han Suk-kyu), is put on the case to solve the obscure crime and redeem himself as an officer of the law.
Piecing together one of the bodies like a jigsaw they identify a next of kin, the beautiful museum curator Su-yeon (Shim Eun-ha). After a brief interview with the woman, Detective Cho discovers that she knew all the victims personally. The cop has to delve deep into her disconcerting past so as to avert the slaughterer striking again.
Although it borrows greatly from SEVEN or SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, this film is neither. Like much of the Korean cinema at present, it has an American feel to it, but the difference is that the subtlety is heavily reduced and gore is highly intensified as gallons of blood exaggeratedly explode onto the screen throughout the film.
Cinematographer of the hugely successful Korean film SHIRI, Sung-Bok Kim, uses some exquisite photography here. Yoon-Hyun Chang, directing only his second film along with Kim, beautifully captures the mood of the city and intertwines it masterfully with the rain. He chillingly creates “paintings” of the bodies by arranging them in a crafty way in front of the camera and, in an unforgettable shot, holds a perfectly lit frame on Su-yeon’s face, showing us her “innocent” beauty.
Unfortunately, TELL ME SOMETHING gets caught up in its own intricacy. As it tries to digress you off the path of the killer’s identity, it convolutes itself into a ball of yarn that finally manages to untangle itself. The gore, being a secondary element to the film, overpowers the storyline at times. The narrative moves along slowly and suddenly bounds along somewhat like the surges of spewing blood. The music, an ever-present element, suffers from occasional mistiming, although it is used to great effect in some scenes.
As a whole the film succeeds in entertaining with its lovely cinematography and fine performances, and is definitely worth a watch. The confusion doesn’t totally come to an end but at least it leaves you talking. As this film will make your skin crawl, I do not recommend it to the squeamish.