Movie Title: Telmisseomding / Tell Me Something
Director: Yuon-hyun Chang
Date Released: November 13th, 1999
Date Seen: October 27th, 2013
Language/Country of Origin: Korean/South Korea
Part 1 – Spoiler Free Quickie Review
This movie follows an investigation into an odd series of murders. Body parts are found across the city in bags – of three different men, all of whom have dated the same woman. We follow a detective with a rough past himself (although it’s completely unnecessary in the plot) as he gets close to this woman and tries to find out who is killing her ex lovers.
It’s an alright movie, but disappointing from the usually stellar genre of Korean Horror/Thriller films. This movie I found slow, predictable, and very messy. Messy in that nothing happens for a long time, then would have a scene of action for a minute, and then nothing again. It also would hint at things that were blatantly obvious were going to eventually be important. The ending of the movie was ok, but not great, it was too messy. It’s an ending that has been done before but was less thought out than others like it. I was very disappointed. The ending leaves a lot up to interpretation – but not on purpose. It’s just so poorly done that the movie doesn’t get the point across of what was really happening.
The “gore” factor is about the same as mild Korean thrillers. Quick bursts of lots of blood, but overall very mild. I don’t mind this, I just wish more things would have happened. Even the characters talked slow or moved slow making it such a boring watch. It took me four hours to get through because I kept stopping, doing something else, and coming back to it until I got bored again.
The characters are alright, but no one you connect to. The main woman, Chae (Eun-ha Shim), always has a blank stare on her face, no matter the scene. She was like a Korean Kristen Stewart, only much prettier. Even when she is crying, it is still the blank stare, that happens to have a drop of wetness falling down her cheek.
Overall, skip this movie, unless you’re a genre fan like me, but be prepared to be disappointed with a messy not well thought out ending, and a slow moving “plot.”
Part 2 – In Depth Spoiler Ridden Review/Synopsis
The movie begins with an unknown man seen walking into an apartment. The next scene is him on a medical table being drained of his blood and cut into pieces. The unknown assailant then puts some of the body parts of the original man into a bag, carries them outside to a car, and leaves them in the trunk.
We now cut to Detective Cho (Suk-kyu Han). He is currently under investigation at work for corruption. Someone has been paying his mothers hospital bills, an exorbitant amount every month. Cho claims he knew nothing about the fact that Park, a man currently being hunted by the police, is paying Cho’s mothers hospital bills. Cho leaves, heading to a crime scene where a man appears to have fallen off a building. At the crime scene, another detective starts poking at Cho, about the investigation, accusing Cho of being a liar. Cho breaks and attacks him, punching him pretty hard in the face. Other people pull him off the man, and Cho asks “why is he out already?”
We see a scene at a hospital, that for me had no subtitles (he was just writing) but I think they were discharge papers for his mothers body – as in, she died. He has his own version of a funeral, just himself and a fire for her, and then goes on to another crime scene – the body bags have been found. The medical examiner, Professor Gu, informs everyone that the body parts are from different bodies. The cuts show that the person used surgical equipment, anesthesia, and has perfect amputation skills. However, he also notices that the bodies were dissected while the person was still alive – resulting in a death by massive blood loss. They were knocked unconscious, but still alive.
The next bag is found in a public elevator, in a hilarious scene where some kids break open the bag and tons of blood comes rushing out, and people slip and fall into the blood and it is great. Cho is assigned to be the lead on the case – and is told to work quickly, and discreetly, since it appears they are dealing with a serial killer. He is also told that if he completes this case well and fast, then he will be “redeemed” in his internal affairs investigation. He sets up a work center in an old abandoned warehouse (for the “discreet” part) and seems to have an endless amount of resources. His team appears to be huge. We, however, focus on Detective Cho, and Detective Oh, a man who is trying to quit smoking, seems to be really into his family, have a life, and quite opposite of the lonely Cho. Oh is helping Cho feel better about the loss of his mother.
The next set of bags are found at a basketball court in a park. This time, we have two bags. Gu, the medical examiner, is still trying to identify the body and the parts. Usually any time of identifying mark has been removed – but this time, the head has a set of crowns in their teeth and Gu thinks they can be used to identify at least one body. He wonders why the killer is doing this to the bodies. Cho notices that there is a pattern in the “missing” pieces of the bodies, and what appears in the next body. So missing legs of the first body appeared in the second body, missing arms appeared in the third body, etc. They explain it fast – but just matters that there is a pattern. They expect to find a torso and a heart from previous victims in the next bag that is found. They are able to identify the park body using the crowns, and they find the person listed as his next of kin, Chae Su-Yeon. She is unaware that she was listed as his next of kin, but identifies him anyway as the correct person. They show Chae the video of the elevator bag drop, where they can only see a hooded man drop the bag. She doesn’t recognize the man or anything that might cause her to believe that she knows the person. Cho shows Chae the pictures of the other heads, asking if she knows if they are friends of the park-body man. She clearly starts freaking out when she looks at the pictures. She says she knows all the men, they are her previous lovers.
Elevator man, was an art student, 27, and was killed first based on autopsies. Chae and him dated in college, but the man was now engaged. The car victim was a violinist, married with a son, who was killed first. He always married but still dated around, which is how he dated Chae. The park man was currently dating Chae. He was a philosophy professor and thought he was going to marry Chae, but she was planning on breaking up with him. The men were killed in the order that Chae dated them. We also find out that Chae’s father is a famous artist who is working abroad, but has been off the radar for the last 5 years. They decide to being investigation on Chae. They have men monitoring her calls and someone watching the doors from across the street to watch if anyone visits.
Cho and Oh go to the door of her house to talk to her, and while waiting on Chae to answer the door, they meet a neighbor who lives down the street – Seungmin Oh (Jung-ah Yum). She asks if they are police, since Chae said some police would stop by her house today. She also asks if the man in the convenience store is a cop, since he’s watching the house so intently. She’s clearly an observant little bugger. Inside the house, Seungmin is making some food while Cho and Oh ask some questions to Chae. Oh asks mostly basic questions, but Cho starts on a slightly rude path of “Did you know car victim was married? Did you see him even knowing that? Did you see him while dating park victim? Did you ever talk to elevator man after he got engaged?” Moral of the story is yes to all of those. She kept talking to her exes even while dating current boyfriends. She says it’s because she loved them all. The police want to know everything they can about Chae, since she is the only link between the victims, and they think the killer knows Chae well. They ask who knew about all these men, and the details of Chae’s life and she says only Seungmin and Kiyon Kim, an ex-boyfriend from college that is still around. Seungmin sits down to to join the conversation, and they ask what she does for a living – surprise, she’s a doctor.
We cut back to the morgue, where Gu has had a discovery. A rare, but powerful preserving chemical was used on all the bodies – this could help them find the killer. Cho goes and asks Seungmin some questions about how she knows Chae. They were classmates in high school, but never close. They became close after college when Chae tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists, but failed, and Seungmin helped her get through it. She also reveals that Seungmin is tired of Kiyon, her workmate, as both friend and lover because he’s sort of obsessed with her (Chae). We see clips of him being sort of obsessive and touchy. Cho continues following Chae to see what she’s doing every day. Chae tells him that she’s had to take a leave of absence from work because she feels like she can’t do her job, that everything is just on her mind about the murders. She also says that it is hard not being able to trust anyone right now – except for Cho, who she knows nothing about. So she is clearly stressing out.
Back in the office, they find out that Kiyon Kim has recently purchased some of the rare preserving chemical, so they bring him in for questioning. Every question they ask, he has an answer for. Chae broke up with him then went to France, and two months later he went to France – was it because of Chae? He says he doesn’t have to answer that. He studied anatomy in college? Because it was required for his major. He bought this chemical online, didn’t he? Yes, to use for preserving bugs and insects. Oh tells Kiyon that the evidence is all pointing to him – he has the chemical, a knowledge of Chae, anatomy, etc. Kiyon asks for a laywer. The creepiest part during this interview is that Kiyon keeps looking around the room. There are three hidden cameras in the room (in a clock, mirror, and something else in conspicuous). Cho is watching the cameras. Kiyon looks straight into each camera multiple times as he answers the questions and is creepy as hell. He clearly knows where they are and that he is being watched.
We now cut to Chae’s house, where she is making dinner and hears a weird noise, she goes to investigate, but sees nothing. We then cut to Seungmin ringing the doorbell – but there is no answer. The cops come and find Chae unconscious, but no blood-loss. She is taken to the hospital. The police dust for fingerprints but find some size 10 footprints. While this is happening Cho recieves a call that they must let Kiyon go now, since he was in custody when this all happened. Cho tells the detective to let him go but keep track of him. We see Kiyan receive a phone call at home, and he writes down something and runs out saying that “they will talk in person” to whoever is on the phone. His house is FULL of recording devices, cameras, everywhere, so that might explain his creepiness earlier. The camera also zooms in on his freezer, slightly open, as he rushes out the door. At Chae’s apartment, Cho finds some cameras hidden around her apartment and realizes that Kiyan must have done that, so they go to Kiyan’s apartment. In searching his apartment, Cho finds the notepad where Kiyan wrote the thing down – he scribbles on it and finds the number “702”. This is a number that we saw at the beginning of the movie – it is the apartment where the first man to die went inside. Uh oh. They also find something in the freezer – a heart. Remember a heart was missing from one body? Uh oh…
Cho and Oh go to the hospital, trying to find Chae, but Seungmin says that she released Chae and they should leave her alone. But (presumably) still tells them where she went – a house out in the woods. Cho wants to move Chae to a safe location, but Chae says she feels safe there. Cho says they need to move her somewhere that even she doesn’t know about, so then the killer has a less chance of finding her. She agrees, saying that she only wishes she knew what the killer wanted from her. Cho takes her to a safe house, and stays with her that night to make sure nothing happens.
The next day Cho is out doing more investigations, leaving a note for Chae saying that there is a gun in the drawer and to call if she needs him. Cho heads to Kiyon’s workshop and finds a car parked outside. We see that there is a man already inside the workshop who has unscrewed a lightbulp and put a tape in a VHS player. We can’t see what it is. Cho looks in the car parked outside, and finds it is Kiyon’s car. He calls Oh and tells him that “this must be the place” and that he’ll see Oh in a few minutes. Cho wanders into the building, trying to turn on the light but it doesn’t work. He does find all the tv monitors on though. He finds pictures of Chae EVERYWHERE. Kiyon has clearly been stalking her. There’s even a huge picture of her covering an entire wall. While Cho keeps on investigating, we see someone outside lock the alley gate – locking Cho inside it. Cho keeps investigating and presses play on the tape deck. He discovers that the tape is a video of one of the murders. He starts to watch it but hears a noise so goes to investigate. He finds himself locked in the building, but breaks open the door and in the alley is a car waiting to ram him down. It hits him twice, but leaves him alive/injured before it drives off. When Oh arrives, he is extremely apologetic of not having been there yet. Cho just listens while getting fixed up, then he heads back to Chae’s safe house. At the safe house he arrives to find Chae not there, but the gun there. She walks in the door moments later with a grocery bag. He is pissed that she went out without calling him, and especially for not taking the gun. She says she’s just not used to guns.
Cho starts getting aggravated saying that Chae is holding something back, that she hasn’t even given them any real information – and that clearly the killer knows everything about her – so why won’t she just tell what happened. She keeps saying that she doesn’t live in the past, and wants to forget it – which she has said before to Cho and Seungmin. Chae does break down and start talking about Kiyon, about how he can’t take no for an answer and that’s probably why he’s obsessed with her, but she really didn’t think he’d go as far as murder or that he’d have anything to do with this. She then asks Cho to teach her how to use the gun. We then cut to the scene of the next bag – it’s found on a highway, when a truck hits it, causing blood and pieces to fly everywhere. Of course now the public knows about the fact that this is a serial killer, since before they only knew about the elevator bag really. Who was in the bag you ask? Why, Kiyon of course. Cho thinks the heart left in Kiyon’s freezer was a clue as to who was the next victim. Kiyon’s head is missing from the bag, so Cho thinks whoever receives Kiyon’s head will be the next victim. Cho leaves and gets in an elevator, which suddenly stops while he is inside it. Then blood starts dripping down from the ceiling and a light – and then blood rains down on him – and we cut to Cho waking up from what was a dream. We cut to the next day, and Gu is explaining to Cho and Oh that they found traces of carbon on the bag that Kiyon’s heart was in, and on the heart. In fact, it is coal powder. Cho realizes that this could be from drawing charcoal – remember that Kiyon was an artist, Chae is an artist, and her father is an artist. Oh goes investigating and finds the shop where the bag came from. Apparently, Chae’s father used to buy from there a long time ago. We also see Oh eating dinner, and recieving a phone call. He goes to a gallery where someone is trying to sell a picture – and they take him to the boy who is trying to sell the picture. It is a young, maybe 8-10 year old little boy playing video games at an arcade. It is the brother of the man who died in the beginning of the movie, falling from the roof. He got the painting from someone in the building where his brother died.
Cho asks Chae about her farther, if she has seen or heard from him in a while. She says not since 5 years ago, when he went of the radar. Cho wants to know about Chae’s father. She just kind of blankly stares – and we get a flash back of why she looks more blank-starey than usual. It alludes to him abusing her/raping her. The next day, Cho goes out to his car, and what does he find inside, but Kiyon’s head. So Cho has been marked as the next person to die, if their idea is right. Chae takes Cho to a house, to try and explain her father to him. It is the house that she grew up in. There are pictures of Chae everywhere, and an odd painting of what looks to be men sacrificing another man. Chae said it used to give her nightmares. They go upstairs and find a room that has some paintings of a young, 12-13 year old Chae. Naked. She says that there was a neighbor boy, who knew everything that went down at the house, and would always ask Chae if she was alright. One day, he tried burning down the house to save Chae from her dad. But, her dad ran in and grabbed her, leave the boy to perish in the fire. Cho calls the precinct to try and find who lived there.
Back with Oh, the little boy has now let Oh to an apartment, where he got the painting. They lockpick the door and Oh goes inside. The little boy is seen running from the door the second Oh goes inside – we also see the apartment number. 702. Once inside, Oh looks around and finds works of art everywhere – including the painting that we know Chae’s father liked. We also find a medical table, bloody rags, and amputation utensils. oh starts looking around even more and finds clean dressings, clothes to wear while performing surgery, pictures of something that makes him gasp, and in the freezer – Chae’s fathers head. He calls Cho and tells him he found Chae’s fathers workshop, and his head is in the freezer, but unfortunately before he can say where, someone runs a sharp end of a gurney through his body, killing him. We see the person take the head in the freezer, clean up a bit and leave.
Cho now heads to where the crime happened, with tons of police already around. They won’t let Cho through to see the body, since Oh was his partner. The police cheif tells Cho he is off the case and to go home. Cho that night decides to go to the apartment though. It is being watched by an officer who tries to stop Cho from getting in, but he pushes through him. In the blood, Cho finds some peanuts on the ground that reduce him to tears – because Oh had been trying to quit smoking and was using peanuts to help him stop.
Back at the precinct, Cho is cleaning up Oh’s desk, gets emotional and leaves. He talks to Chae before he leaves saying he hopes she cooperates with whoever the new person on the case is. She leaves saying she is just tired of talking to everyone. Before he completely leaves the precinct, someone runs out after him saying he looked up the address of the house next door to Chae when she grew up. They had no sons. Only 6 daughters. One of whoms name was Seungmin. Dun-dun-dun! He rushes off, and about that time someone else in the precinct discovers that Seungmin got a speeding ticket near the site of the first murder. Hmmm… They go to talk to her at work but she realizes they are on to her and sneaks out before they talk to her. She goes home and starts to clean up her evidence and also frame that she was attacked by spreading blood everywhere. Seungmin calls Chae and asks her to meet her at Tower Records. Cho gets a message from Chae saying that Seungmin called her (but he couldn’t get ahold of Chae, so Chae doesn’t know about Seungmin yet). So Cho starts driving as fast as he can to Tower Records.
In a store we see Cho buying a new dress and putting on some stockings – stockings to hide her burned legs, indicating that she was the “little boy” who tried to save her with the fire. At Tower Records, Chae is waiting at the door for Seungmin. Seungmin is watching Chae from the back, and comes at her from behind, still acting like they are bff’s and she hasn’t killed a lot of people. She takes Chae over to a display and puts headphones on her and has her listen to a song – the same song it seems that Chae bought the CD for earlier in the movie. We see Seungmin’s face start to change as she pulls a knife out of her purse and stares intently at Chae. Cho gets there, but Seungmin sees Cho before he can do anything and she grabs Chae and puts a knife up to her throat. Cho can’t shoot Seungmin because he doesn’t have a good shot. But, suddenly a shot rings off, and it is revealed that Chae shot Seungmin, with the gun that Cho gave her, which she was keeping in her pocket. Seungmin does look very beautiful in death, in her brand new white dress surrounded by blood and at these nice angles. It was a very pretty shot.
We cut to Chae and Cho, attending a sort of funeral for Chae’s father. Chae says she’s going to France and asks Cho if he wants to go with her. He is just kind of silent and says she knows that he can’t, she just thought she’d ask. She also gives him some stuff. One is her fish, which she says can “hear footsteps” and the other is a sketch book she has done that has some drawings of him and Oh in it. She then leaves.
At home, Cho is watching some of the tapes they found in Kiyon’s stuff, of Chae at home. One video he finds odd, where Chae hides something small in a drawer. He realizes that he recognizes it – it is a button he pulled off the man at the beginning of the movie, that fell from the roof. He also finds a set of keys – to apartment 702. He realizes that the man didn’t fall from the roof, he fell from the window of this apartment, as in, he saw something going on as he was climbing up the side, and he was pushed/fell/whatever. The mans body was found below this window. He also finds in the apartment the picture that Oh had found before he died – a picture of Chae, Seungmin, and all the men who were murdered together. Cho, notices he knows where this picture was taken – the house in the woods that Chae was staying at. He rushes out there and finds that the picture was taken in front of a weird wall. He gets there, and finds an odd display in the wall – of a body stitched together, two arms, two legs, a torso, but no head. What? We then cut to Chae on the plane, flying to Paris, with a hot guy next to her asking if it will be her first time in Paris. She says yes it will be, and the movie ends.
If you google, the end is up for interpretation as it isn’t exactly clear what has happened. What I think has happened is that Chae is a sociopath who gets people to do her bidding. Seungmin was her partner, probably performing the dismemberment, doing it all to “protect” Chae, and since she always wanted to protect Chae from bad men (like her raping father) this was a way of doing it. I think Seungmin was planning on getting killed at Tower Records, no matter what, and making it look like she did it all and that Chae was innocent (like the police and Cho think for a while). Chae also is clearly looking for her next victim, and wanted it to be Cho, but he says no to going to Paris, so she starts hitting on that guy on the plane. Why is she doing all this? Unsure. It surely stems from her father. In what I’ve googled, the 6 pieces that the bodies are cut into are representative of old drawing models, that were in 6 parts, and since Chae was a human doll for her father, this is how she felt. There’s also the painting of Chae as Ophelia, from Hamlet, drowning. I’m not a Hamlet person but apparently Ophelia went mad as a result of her father’s death – which the man she loved did. So maybe one of those men, probably Kiyon, had something to do with Chae’s fathers death? Then she just decided fuck it I’m going to kill all men. Or maybe she just always thought men were evil and wanted to kill them all so got Seungmin in on it? Who knows. I do feel with certainty though that Chae is the sociopathic mastermind of it all, and maybe after a second viewing it’d be more obvious, but it wasn’t good enough to watch a second time, so oh well.
It was pretty slow with not a great plot that ended fast and messy, so I don’t think I’d watch it again, but maybe good for a one time watch if you’re a fan of the genre.