Movie Reviews,  Reviews

Memories of Murder (2003) – One of the best ever Crime-Thrillers!

Original TitleSalinui chueok
Runtime2h 12m
RatingR (Violence, Profanity, Sexuality)

Memories of Murder was the first Korean movie I saw, way back in 2012. Up till then, my favorite movies in the Serial Killer Investigation genre were Zodiac, Seven and The Silence of the Lambs. Memories of Murder belongs to this elite group.

While Zodiac focused on the Protagonist’s obsession in finding the killer, Memories of Murder was more about the desperation of the investigators in solving the crime, the feel of evil so near, yet so far.

Many would now know who Bong Joon-Ho is – The director of the Oscar winning movie ‘Parasite’. Leave alone Oscars, the man was already one of the most exciting and talented film makers in the world. He had only made a handful of movies, which were of high quality. ‘The Host’, ‘Mother’, ‘Snowpiercer’, ‘Okja’, ‘Parasite’ and my personal favorite of him – ‘Memories of Murder’.

Memories of Murder is based on a true story of the first ever Serial-Killer in South Korea. The story takes place in the 80s, where political unrest is there in South Korea and the investigators are yet to get involved in any major crime, especially in the countryside. Our main protagonist, Song Kang-ho as the cynical inspector from the village is contrary to his aggressive counterpart from the city. Memories of Murder is not your typical investigative thriller where the cops are extremely smart with brilliant strategies. Here, the individuals are portrayed as normal human beings with flaws and they find themselves in a case too hot to handle, which gives the killer, a clear edge.

The movie has a raw, realistic, gritty feel with real human emotions. The theme is dark, violent, yet weirdly comical in appropriate proportions, but the intensity is always up. Where this movie is different from others, is the brilliant use of Ensemble staging where the emphasis is not always on a single character, but all the characters who are investigating the crime and the surroundings – The camera angles in the interrogation scene is a prime example of the same.

Memories of Murder has a great script elevated by brilliant direction of Bong Joon-Ho. Right from the opening frames till the end, the film is filled with fantastic set-pieces of masterful film-making. Bong’s direction on an early crime scene is brilliant where a body is lying exposed in the field, the mess around it, locals and reporters crowding all over the potentially key evidences, and the inability of the police to handle the situation. The movie is rich with many such wonderful sequences.

The Cinematography is stunning – the paddy field, the shadows, rain falling in a small village at night, the tunnel scenes, and my personal favorite – ‘the mid-night chase’, aided by brilliant use of music and silence as required. The attention to detail, the investigative procedures, the character development are all fascinating. The acting is realistic and Song Kang-ho, gives an excellent performance.

Memories of Murder is a moody, atmospheric thriller which can get under your skin, create suspense even when nothing is visibly threatening and makes you view the proceedings through the eyes of the killer as well as the investigators.

The closing frames are so haunting, powerful and the final stare is chilling – Haunted by Memories of Murder!

Memories of Murder is an absolute Masterpiece!

Verdict: Must Watch!

Have you read my Halloween Horror Movies suggestion? Read now

Image Source: IMDB

Trailer Credits: YouTube

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