Memories of Murder (2003) Review

Verdict: Bone chilling

Impressive acting, editing, directing and music.


Based on the true story of South Korea’s first serial killer, the film follows Detective Park (Song Kang-ho), his sidekick Detective Cho (Kim Roe-ha) and Detective Seo (Kim Sang-kyung) as they rush to track down the killer. Their initial suspect, Kwang-ho (Park No-shik) is a mentally challenged boy who was last seen following one of the victims on the night of her death. Directed by Bong Joon-ho.

Let me just start off by saying that I do not like this film. It has given me trouble sleeping at night, and if you have been following me, you’ll know that I immensely dislike horror films. (It’s only during film courses that I am forced to watch them) What’s worse, is that this isn’t so much a horror film, but one that is based on reality. Don’t get me wrong, I am very impressed by the film and think it is a very good film, but that doesn’t mean I need to like it.

The main problem I have with it (which makes me stay up at night) is the predator and prey scene in the paddy field. I guess people love watching thrillers and horrors for the feeling they get from it, and I hate it for the same reason.

The acting is phenomenal in this. Song Kang-ho and Kim Roe-ha play the goofy dumb cops really well and their whole demeanour reminds me more of the Mafia than detectives. Though their intentions may be good, the fact that they try and force confessions show that they don’t really care much for justice and are rather more focused on the need to have someone to blame for the crimes. Kim Sang-kyung did a phenomenal job as well, and though he plays the stoic, ‘masculine’ cop, his expressions in the second half of the film transcends the screen.

The directing and editing too are very powerful and greatly influenced the impact of the film. Bong Joon-ho does a great job with levels, atmosphere and close-ups/wide shots. His vision and direction is amazing. In addition with the great editing (music, cuts) and the mise-en-scene (and make-up of victims), this film makes for one hella creepy watch. We all know the impact that the right music choice has on a film, and especially for thriller/horror films, music is crucial to that suspense and ‘jolt’ moment. In this film though the music played a part by making it very reminiscent and sorrowful, like remembering a bad memory.

Though it is an impressive film, it is not without it’s flaws. There are a few events that are not fully explained or some scenes that are a bit confusing. Also, they never did find the killer, and there is a very high chance that he watched this and is very likely still alive now…

To sum-up:
PROS: Acting, script, directing, editing, music
CONS: Some confusing scenes

I give this a 9/10.

Have you seen Memories of Murder? Rate it out of 5 stars above or leave a comment below!


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