SEPTEMBER 9, 2007
Like them or not, the one thing I have always enjoyed about Asian horror films is that they are far from run of the mill. They might not make a lick of sense at times, but damned if they aren’t trying to provide the horror genre with SOMETHING we haven’t really seen before.
Such is NOT the case with Tell Me Something, a film that’s only real surprise is how dull and uninvolving it is. Combining parts from Seven, Silence of the Lambs, Jennifer 8 (?!?!?) and all the other American films that ripped THOSE films off, only the occasional gruesome sight and familiar soundtrack lift make this a two hour trek worth taking.
Yes, for some reason, while the film is set in Korea and stars only Koreans, the soundtrack is straight out of a Dimension film. The Scream theme, a.k.. “Red Right Hand” from Nick Cave, plays a few times, and there are also appearances by Placebo and Enya, as well as some Bach and Mendelssohn to balance things out. Part of the fun of watching a foreign film, at least for me, stems from the introduction to their culture, and that includes soundtrack selections. But here, I’m constantly reminded of Scream. Whatever.
Like I said, there’s also a few nice gore setpieces that can reignite viewer interest. A garbage bag filled with body parts spills over a crowded elevator early on, and then later, another bag causes a bloody, massive car accident. Good stuff.
But the story itself is a bore. I guess it’s good to know that vague, dark, dirty cities in Korea are also stalked by mysterious killers who leave cryptic clues for cops to find in the middle of a downpour, and that their cops will begin to get “too close” to the case by falling for a key witness, and that they also have an abundance of burnt out factories and condemned apartment buildings to search, but otherwise there’s little new to offer here. And if you haven’t figured out or just assumed the twist ending beforehand, ANYONE can figure it out simply by looking at the ‘time remaining’ display and realizing there’s only one character left alive and 15 minutes to go.
And even though the film is overlong, it would be even longer had it been edited correctly. Several scenes end jarringly, as if there was still another line or two to be spoken, or at least a reaction to what was being revealed, that somehow got removed. “Where did you find that?” someone might say, and then SLAM! We instantly cut to the next scene, as the cop is investigating the next clue. It’s really annoying both in a storytelling and an editing sense.
But still, if you’ve never seen a film before, you might enjoy it I guess.
I also must point out the insulting manufacturing of the DVD. Being a foreign film, you have the option of a dubbed track or the original, as well as corresponding subtitles. But the menu programming is seemingly done by folks who never actually saw a DVD before. In addition to not including a “Play” option right from the setup menu, like every other DVD ever made, it also automatically goes back to highlighting “Korean” regardless of what option you pick, instead of “Main” (or “Play”, if it was actually there). Making matters worse, you cannot switch the audio or sub tracks while the film is playing, nor is there a “Resume” option on the main or setup menus (another button you would expect due to the fact that every other DVD developer in history took the time to include it). Now, this wouldn’t be a problem, but I decided to watch it dubbed because I wasn’t in the mood to read the movie. This proved impossible, however, as the dubbing was fucking atrocious, not to mention seemingly only done by about 4 people, making some scenes incomprehensible because the same guy would be doing both sides of a conversation. So I tried to switch it to Korean with English subs, but I had to go back to the main menu to do so, then fast forward back to where I left off. Assholes. Then, making matters worse YET AGAIN, the subtitles dipped below the image, into the black, which meant I couldn’t zoom in to correct the non-anamorphic image (at this point I almost expect the DVD producer to ignore us silly folks who spent upwards of a thousand dollars in order to watch their films in superior quality), because the subtitles would be cropped out as a result. And at one point, the sound just disappears entirely for two minutes. When a DVD is so un-user friendly and shoddily produced, it’s like they are saying “Fuck you” to the person who bought it.
Well you know what? Fuck you too, Kino On Video.
What say you?