Tell Me Something review

:. Director: Yoon-Hyun Chang
:. Starring: Suk-kyu Han, Eun-ha Shim
:. Running Time: 1:58
:. Year: 1999
:. Country: South Korea


Gory, dark and gifted with a stylized aesthetic Tell Me Something is a South Korean variation on the serial killer genre.

After the discovery of garbage bags containing dismembered bodies throughout Seoul, Inspector Cho sets out on the killer's heels. During his investigation, he meets the enigmatic Chae. Though a relationship will between them starts, the corpses will accumulate until their fates cross.

Yoon-Hyun Chang's film was released in South Korea in 1999, the same year as the national blockbuster national Shiri also featuring Suk-kyu Han in the role of police officer. Though Tell Me Something certainly doesn't leave a mark with its originality (one thinks irremediably of Se7en), it's the choking atmosphere, visual approach and taste for excess that make it an engaging work.

The film does not hide its penchant for gore and the cruelty that will shock more than one person. Some discoveries of bodies are more appalling than others, (in particular one where children are playing in an elevator), and the murders are proof of unquestionable sadism. Yoon-Hyun Chang builds his film around the psychological fear that contaminates the city and if the abundance of hemoglobin translates his desire to shock with a certain gratuity, it also officiates like a catalyst of horror among both the characters and the audience. The majority of the scenes are also filmed in semi-darkness and the rain often comes to give the picture a nightmarish air. The photography is careful, playing with light and angles to offer very stylized shots.

As is often the case in psychological cinema, the rhythm is rather slow and the film has a tendency to stretch in length. However multiple twists (though perhaps too many become foreseeable) continuously come to strike audience interest.

The film also tackles societal problems, like the assimilation of the girls as sex objects and the trauma that follows. The relationship between Chae and her father even denounces rampant incest while one also sees a reference to another taboo, homosexuality.

Yoon-Hyun Chang's direction lacks rhythm at times but he confirms his talent as a filmmaker in the vision he brings to the story.

Suk-kyu Han and Eun-ha Shim perfectly embody two bruised beings attracted to each other, and whose subconscious resembles a large chessboard where they try to exorcise their own demons.

While Tell Me Something is a small film, its visual audacity makes it an atypical work and a valorous symbol of South Korean cinematic diversity, from which we can only profit.

  Fred Thom

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