Tell Me Something Review
Written by: jmh314
How do you solve a bunch of grisly murderers when you can’t identify the victims? Very slowly and in confusing fashion, or at least that’s how it’s done in the Korean horror/mystery/thriller Tell Me Something. It really started with such promise that I thought this film may be a Korean version of Se7en. It had the atmosphere, the story, the grisliness and the twists to be successful. It just tried to be too much and went on for too long, sometimes in very unnecessary ways. It is still a top class horror/mystery, but its flaws keep it from reaching its true potential.
Tell Me Something starts off on a very high note in the first two minutes with one of best looking arm disembowelments I have seen. It immediately switched gears to our hero, Detective Cho. We learn something happened with the death of his mother and he is being questioned as a suspect. He was suspended from the force, but returns to work to investigate the death of a young boy. His attention soon changes to a full investigation of a series of bloody murders.
The bloody murders are first discovered when a trash bag is found in an abandoned car on the highway. The bag contains a severed human body. The arms, legs, and head have all been detached from the torso in surgically perfect fashion. Upon autopsy of the body, the victim can not be identified because none of the body parts match. The head, torso, set of arms, and set of legs came from different victims. To top it all off, all prints have been cut off the fingers of the severed arms.
Shortly after the first bag of body parts is discovered, two other bags are discovered. The body parts all begin to match up like puzzle pieces and make whole bodies, but still none of the victims can be identified. That is until the doctor doing the autopsy realizes one victim's crowns were not removed from his teeth. They match his crowns to positively ID the victim and leads Detective Cho to the victims “next of kin” Su-Yeon Chae. Detective Cho finds Su-Yeon and she positively identifies the one body. Then while interrogating Su-Yeon, Detective Cho shows her pictures of the other two victims faces to see if she recognizes them. It turns out Su-Yeon was romantically linked to all three men.
Detective Cho soon puts Su-Yeon under constant surveillance because of her suspicious connection to the victims. While under watch, we learn Su-Yeon is kind of a loner with her neighbor being her one real friend and an annoying co-worker always finding a way to bug her. As Detective Cho begins to get closer to Su-Yeon, he becomes more suspicious of her coworker who is borderline stalking her. They take him in for questioning and believe he may be their guy, but then another murder occurs. With their only possible suspect cleared, it is up to Detective Cho to keep Su-Yeon safe as bodies with connections to her continue to surface. But can Detective Cho and his team crack the case or will the body parts continue to pile up until Su-Yeon becomes the last piece of the bloody body part puzzle?
I must say the story to Tell Me Something is really great. The mixed up body parts in bags is really a creative way for bodies to pile up. It had all the right pieces in place for this story to be one of the best horror/mystery films of all time. Unfortunately the story drags on with unnecessary situations. There are sections of back story in the middle involving Su-Yeon’s past that were stretched to the max, but it could have been more effective if they were streamlined. Without giving too much away, there were some parts that seemed like the director was stretching the issue. This often made things confusing as you wonder why they go back to some of these story elements. The ending also tries to make too many twists and ultimately left me scratching my head for the true answers. It tried to wrap everything up in a tight little bow, but ultimately left things in a twisted and loose fashion.
The flaws in the story don’t affect the tremendous imagery. The film was very dark and relied on a lot of rain to set the mood, much like in Se7en. There was a wonderful scene in which Detective Cho was walking down a dark ally at night with a flashlight. You could follow the beam of light for a while, and the pouring rain penetrated the light beam and made it almost flicker. Director Yoon-Hyun Chang surely had the right idea with how he wanted this piece shot. It keeps that dark and raw feel throughout, but is able to mix in a few lighter scenes that gave the viewer a sense of hope and happiness for Su-Yeon. The soundtrack adds a nice dramatic element and was very effective in setting some of the tense scenes. There was a scene on an elevator that used the music very well and was a scene I think Kubrick would be proud of. And the dismembered body parts were some of the most realsitc I have seen, and the blood flow looked truely real.
The acting was top notch in this as well. Eun-ha Shim was great as Su-Yeon. Through the dark setting of the film she does a good job using quiet facial expressions to add dimension to her character. Suk-kyu Han is effective in his role as the detective. He is serious about the case but develops a weak spot for Su-Yeon and shows he wants to solve it as much for her as he does for himself.
I want to give this film a higher ranking, I really do. The story was original, the blood was flowing and the hook was almost set. Unfortunately the story just stretched on for way too long and the ending took so many twists that my mind is a confused pretzel. The could have taken 20-30 minutes off this almost 2 hour film and it would have been a lot tighter and more effective. And the twists were a little too open ended and left a few confusing unanswered questions in my mind. Despite these flaws, Tell Me Something is an above average horror/thriller that may be Korea’s answer to Se7en. It is just as grisly and definitely bloodier, but ultimately doesn’t give the closure Se7en achieves. Nonetheless, Tell Me Something is a worthy addition to any horror/thriller fans collection looking for a bloody decent mystery.