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Tell Me Something

cast: Han Suk-kyu, Shim Eun-ha, Jang Hang-seon, and Yum Jung-ah

director: Chang Yoon-hyun

114 minutes (18) 1999
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Tartan Asia Extreme DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Andrew Hook
Tell Me Something (aka: Telmisseomding) is an enjoyable, occasionally gory, serial killer movie that raises many more questions than it solves, but remains an entertaining ride regardless of its imperfections.

Detective Cho (Han Suk-kyu) plays a possibly corrupt policeman who has the chance to redeem himself by solving a series of particularly grisly murders. Body parts are found in bin-bags at various locations, and once examined it appears that at least three murders have been committed. Because the body parts are mixed up, and some are missing, identification of the victims proves difficult, but after dental records reveal the identity of one of them the police are led to Chae Su-yeon (Shim Eun-ha), who it appears knew not just one of the men, but at some point had relationships with all three. Subsequent murders, which indicate that the killer is leaving a body part as a calling card for each potential victim before their deaths, together with a complicated, confusing back story, fuel the remainder of the movie as Detective Cho attempts to identify the killer.

Atmospherically, this movie has a lot going for it. The filming is exemplarily, and the perpetual rain makes for claustrophobic viewing. The acting, whilst basic at times, is mostly involving and suits the mood and themes of the movie. Shim Eun-ha works well in a difficult role as the leading lady, her reticence to reveal her past as much as a plot device as a character trait, and whilst Han Suk-kyu's detective gives her much more rope than any policeman ever should, his interest in her remains believable. Chae's doctor friend, Seungmin Oh (Yum Jung-ah), also has an interesting, pivotal role, whilst perhaps the most sympathetic character is Detective Cho's sidekick, Detective Oh (Jang Hang-seon), who works hard to pull some of the strands together.

This is definitely a movie that requires you to think about it after it is over, in order to attempt to piece together just exactly what has happened, however that doesn't mean that you'll come to any satisfying conclusions. Some of the connections are tenuous at best, and the intricacies of the plot are open to many, often conflicting, permutations. In some movies this would be a definite weakness, but Tell Me Something manages to remain likeable despite them. There's a literary feeling to the plot, which is rather engaging.

What will have you shouting at the screen, however, are the actions of the various detectives who enter dangerous areas without backup or guns, who allow people to be attacked when they're supposed to be protecting them, and who leave chief suspects/ possible victims alone in the most ridiculous of circumstances. Entering rooms without turning the lights on seems to be a prerequisite for horror film actors, but this movie goes take such gullibility to extremes!

Nonetheless, Tell Me Something is well worth watching, and an intriguing addition to the Korean horror movies now appearing on DVD.
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