Tell Me Something


Director: Chang Youn Hyun

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

This slowly paced serial murderer mystery follows the investigations of a homicide detective (Suk-kyu Han) who is falling in love with a woman (Eun-ha Shim) who is evidently being stalked by a maniac who is killing & dismembering all her lovers.

Despite periodically spicing up this tedious thriller with Argentoesque gore FX & assuming every corpse contains about fifty or a hundred gallons of blood (sufficient in one scene to cause a multi-car & truck pile-up as vehicles go sleucing down the highway in an oil-slick of blood), moments of authentic suspense are very few & far between. It is glacially paced & laconically to monotonously acted.

As an inferior & strained Korean take on a type of film epitomized by Seven & The Usual Suspects combined, Tell Me Something may actually be very entertaining to some viewers if making actual sense is not required. To me all the tricks of plot were old-hat. When the crime is finally solved it is neither surprising nor all that convincing, & when the last of a half-dozen twists is tacked on after that to reveal that the crime hadn't been solved after all, it's slightly more appealing compared to how uninvolving the bulk of the film had been, but there's certainly nothing new in any of it, & as a double-twist it's not particularly good. Rather than "Wow!" those final twists make one wonder, "What the crap??"

I would be tempted to think "it was only me" & merely a matter of taste or being in a bad mood, because there was a slick stylishness about the film's noirish look, a grave tone to the first two-thirds of the film, & the two leads are very attractive individuals who didn't screw up their roles.

Yet the storyline had too many lapses in clarity. For example, Lt. Cho is under investigation for something or another, he seems to have done something really bad & may or may not have been paid off by some gang boss to do it. A big deal is made of this in the opening sequences of the film, & it is even intimated that it had something to do with his recently dead mother, but we never find out anything about any of it nor is the gang boss ever part of the story. This isn't going to be the film's only over-stated red herring or non-sequitor either.

There are plot holes so enormous that the events couldn't even happen as we're supposed to accept. When the killer is revealed (the second time, the actual killer, if there was only one), thinking back over the film it becomes pretty certain that this person wasn't positioned properly by the script to have actually killed everyone who got killed. So the killer's best friend has to be a conspirator who killed at least one of the victims, Lieutenant Cho's partner detective Oh. As possible co-conspirator, was she involved one way or another with all the murders or just one or not even that one? We're never told.

And was the best friend & possible co-conspirator transsexual or simply raised in childhood as the opposite sex? Seems mostly likely the latter. Did or did not our leading lady know her girlfriend was one & the same with her childhood playmate & were we supposed to suspect that playmate was her sibling? What did the friend hope to achieve by wiping blood all over a bathroom wall then going to the record shop? Was she framing herself out of devotion to her friend? Were they (incestuous?) lovers or just loony lipstick lesbians? Were they betraying each other at the end, one trying to slit the other's throat, the other using the gun, & if after a film-full of conspiratoriality they were betraying each other, why?

What did the kid who fell from the window have to do with anything? Why did Lieutenant Cho keep the kid's coat-button in his pocket for the whole damned film? Why were there spy cameras in the woman's apartment & who had the expertise to put them there? At the first crime scene they established a third body had been chopped up & taken away by the murderer, yet that missing victim was never again mentioned; was it the same as the headless corpse in the aquarium at the end? Where's that corpse's head? Why are there visual shots begging us to compare the (father's?) corpse standing in the shower/aquarium with the father's portrait of his daughter as Ophelia?

What did Lieutenant Cho see in that snapshot that made him realize he had solved the crime incorrectly? Who could've taken the snapshot? Was there a third conspirator who put the hidden cameras in the apartment or took the polaroid? Why did Cho want to break the huge aquarium with the headless corpse merely to get corpse-water all over everything & himself?

Are some of these questions irresolvable on purpose as a big joke on public stupidity in buying tickets to anything so ineptly dashed together? Or did the filmmakers fail to make it make sense out of sheer incompetence? Some of the questions can be definitively answered by close scrutiny & multiple viewings of a film not the least worth so much effort, while other of the questions I'm confident have no answers.

But if we could find or trump up answers to most of the questions which the script fails to present with any clarity, would the film be more or less interesting? Probably less, because the "find the mistake" quotient is more interesting than anything in the story itself.

At every turn, but especially in that aggravating last 20 or 30 minutes, the film loses clarity or has trouble with continuity. It either has enormous plot holes, or unexplained bits that look like such huge plot holes that the whole story just falls apart.

So even though I momentarily thought I must've been in a bad mood not to like the film, on further reflection I decided it was almost as incompetent as it was boring. Still, a viewer who is perhaps too drunk, stoned, or stupid to care whether or not the plot revelations make any sense may find it exciting for the sleuces of blood & never even notice the gaping plot holes.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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