Tell Me Something

Good thriller, stupid twist.

Released in 1999, certified UK-18. Reviewed on 08 Oct 2005 by Scott Morris
Tell Me Something image

I'm reliably informed that the title of this moving picture in it's native Korea is Telmisseomding, although that surely can't be right. Anyway, granted a run in U. K. cinemas courtesy of 2005's Tartan Asia Extreme season a mere six years after it's initial release, Tell Me Something is not the horror flick it's blink-and-you-miss-it heavy-on-the-claret trailer implies that it is, but a resoundingly decent crime thriller.

Detective Cho (Suk-kyu Han)'s stock may have fallen recently due to allegations of corruption, but he's handed a case that might lead to redemption. A few bin bags have been showing up in unexpected places, although the most unexpected thing about these bags is that they're full of severed body parts. Wisely figuring out that this probably means a nutty killer is on the loose, a squad is formed to look into this messy business. Forensic evidence soon points leads to one revelation, namely that all of the victims so far are tied to the life of Chae Su-Yeon (Eun-ha Shim) is some way.

Cho and his cop cronies stick closely to Chae as blood filled bin bags start turning up with worrying regularity. The investigation proceeds apace, but of course the downside with getting closer to the slashkillmaniacnutter is that you're getting closer to a slashkillmaniacnutter, which is almost twice as dangerous as sticking your face into a fan. Thusly peril is derived for the purposes of thrills and entertainment.

Tell Me Something image

There's a recurring problem in serial killer whodunnits like this, and that is that by the final reel it's patently obvious whodunnit because every other character has become a victim of said serial killer. As such the finale will come as little shock to you, although there's always the option of doing one of those last second twists that have become so popular since The Usual Suspects invented the cinematic twist back in 1995. Well, not quite, but there's no denying the influence it's had on thrillers made since. The crucial point that most imitators fail to notice is that the twist in Suspects made sense, at least going by the movies internal logic. Sadly Tell Me Something goes down the path of bolting a last minute reveal that renders good chunks of what went before it, well, not quite inexplicable (Hello, Ocean's Twelve) but certainly difficult-to-explicable, at least without jumping through a goodly number of logical hoops. None of which feels very satisfactory and fulfilling on the way back home.

A tremendous pity, as everything up until that point had been swimming along nicely enough. Suk-kyu Han and his crew act a lot like coppers, or at least act a lot like I've been conditioned to think coppers act. Eun-ha Shim plays a good victim and while at times it can feel like an extended, Asian version of Cracker director Jang Yoon-hyeon keeps things trucking along at a decent lick of pace. It's all well handled, competent stuff, although on reflection I'm not sure that this says more about Cracker than Tell Me Something

No more than competent, mind. In fact, the only thing contained in Tell Me Something that I'm finding interesting enough to talk about, unfortunately, is that god-damn ridiculous twist ending. I'm probably fixating on this unduly, as I distinctly remember thinking that this was really quite good while sitting in front of it. Now I'm sitting in front of a keyboard, all I can think of is how pony the ending was. From this shaky observation I conclude that if you're only after a diverting enough thriller to while away an evening, Tell Me Something fits the bill rather well. Nothing more than that, and certainly not one that'll trouble many a DVD shelf.

Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 3/5 TippyMarks.

Jang Yoon-hyeon
Cast list:
Suk-kyu Han (Detective Cho)
Eun-ha Shim (Chae Su-Yeon)
Hang-Seon Jang (Detective Oh)
Jung-ah Yum (Seungmin Oh)
Jun-Sang Yu (Kim Ki-yeon)