How Far Will Three Detectives Go to Stop Evil? “Memories of Murder” (Neon / Digital Screener)

Two impractical detectives of the Gyunggi province of South Korea investigate a pair of rape and murder cases involving two beautiful and unrelated women found with their hands bound behind their backs, gagged with a rock tied into their mouth, and with their panties covering their heads.  Known around the province for their torturous interrogation tactics, the detectives bully a mentally handicap young man and the local pervert into confessing to the heinous crimes, but when a Seoul investigator arrives into the village, drawn in by the curiosity and coincidence of the murders, a larger scale serial rapist and murderer, calculating his every move, is unearthed, connected by series of events leading the small police force to reevaluate their handling of the murders that have become more gruesome than the next with every victim. 

Before his inevitable recognition from the 2019 Academy Awards for his socially skewed hierarchy thriller, “Parasite,” that historically won Best Picture, Directing, International Film Feature, and Original Screenplay categories, even before his breakout success amongst fans of the horror genre with the creature feature, “The Host,” and an introduction into the American film market with another social class commentary, the dystopian standoff that was “Snowpiercer,” starring the Captain America portrayer himself, Chris Evans, filmmaker Bong Joon-ho had an eye for crafting his vision on camera and a knack for nerve-shredding storytelling as a writer in the early 2000’s with his 2003 sophomore feature, a crime drama entitled “Memories of Murder.” Originally known as “Salinui chueok” and written by director, the film is an encryption of a murder mystery encoded from the real life serial crimes in the Hwaeseong province in the 1980’s, Bong Joon-ho’s film takes place in 1986, and renders an engrossing story structured like a modern day Jack the Ripper emerging out of the unpleasant anecdotes of Korea lore stirred with themes of consequences as a result of careless failures and the inadequacy of effort no matter the analyzed angle.  CJ Entertainment, Muhan Investment, and Sidus serve as production companies of this somber sleuth mystery.

Despite their different methods of interrogations and investigation pursuits, the story hammers down on the three detectives’ across the board search for a methodical killer rather than a killer’s betokening perception of events as the detectives, individually flawed with ill repute and personally challenged, separately come unglued, make mistakes, and suffer the consequences of their public inanity, but when they click in harmony and rally on the same page, the truth almost hops into their laps rather than at a snail’s pace stemmed from internal competition for apprehension success. Song Kang-ho has played the constant, the unparalleled keystone, in Bong’s two decades of film credits, beginning his collaboration with the acclaimed director in “Memories of Murder” as the province’s ineffectual blowhard detective, Park Doo-man. With a deadpan stare, Song Kang-ho debones the Park Doo-man to his rudimentary base, a waggish con artist in an officer’s casual attire, and the actor defines Park’s arc so clearly, distinctly, and with ease that you can actually see Park Doo-man’s soul just become utterly crushed by not only the tough case but also when it’s clear that he must separate himself from his partner Cho Yong-koo (Kim Roe-ha) after a foolish bar fight of steadfast conviction and begin to accept his counterpart rival Seo Tae-yoon (Kim Sang-kyung) to no longer be the buffoon when bodies continues to pile up. “Memories of Murder” round out with Song Jae-ho, Byun Hee-Bong, Ko Seo-hie, Park No-shik, and Ryu Tae-ho.

In the battle to be top cop that nabs the worst criminal the province has ever seen, a disastrous paradox thwarts their oath to protect and serve the community as the two detectives, in their haste for swift justice, don’t see eye-to-eye on issues of evidence and actual detective work with a levelheaded outside investigator putting his foot forward delivering a working, if not more rational, model of a killer’s mind.  The innate detective, Park Doo-man, relies heavily on the circumstantial from gossip, relayed by the province investigator’s soothing nurse who he’s also seeing romantically, to superstition, visiting expensive shamans and claiming to have supernatural sleuth abilities himself, in order to cheat corners in hoping the information will present itself like an elegantly wrapped gift with a bow on top.  At the other end is the outsider, detective Seo Tae-yoon, from the metropolis area of Seoul and the big city detective, who sees more of these types of crime in his urban backyard, conducts a factual investigation based off research and relying on experience that gives him intuition into how the killer thinks.  Clarity in the contrast concedes more so when the third detective, another province resident, Cho Yong-koo, refuses to change his ways of brutal violence and torture as he continues his flying kicks right into the chests of suspects whereas his partner, Park Doo-man, relaxes his greed for admiration when the number of deceased women becomes unnerving and public trust in law enforcement rapidly diminishes; the reality sets when his counterpart, Seo Tae-yoon, produces results closer to an arrest based on fact.  Bong Joon-ho’s approach at the beginning would not be a conventional one that mingles rape and murder with the bumbling antics of a small town police force that’s outrageously zany at times.  The zaniness comedy subsides and is replaced with an air-letting dismal outlook of vulnerability and powerlessness in making little-to-no headway into a case that keeps getting grislier and grislier with the killer not inserting objects into his female victim’s vagina.  Trusting the system is even more disquieted so when the most latest and reliable crime solving techniques in the mid-1980s, from America none-the-less, proves to be astonishingly inconclusive, making the case seem like a no-win situation that then reverts back to the idea that sometimes even the most careful and meticulously handled cases, without the use of force, are not solvable. 

The powerful knuckle-biter “Memories of Murder” rattles with anxious tension and is chartered gracefully through the unrivaled eye of Bong Joon-ho.  Now making it’s grand return exclusively to theaters nationwide October 19th and 20th, “Memories of Murder” will be exhibited digitally remastered for U.S. audience for the first time since it’s initial release since 2003 courtesy of a partnership between Neon and Fathom Events.  The limited theatrical running with include exclusive content and a post-screening conversation between Bong Joon-Ho and “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” director, Edgar Wright.  Since I’m unable to compare the digitally remastered with the initial release, all I can say is that the film presentation appears steady, tight, and clean with Bong’s sepia tone to incept a memory fragment of the past and shot to entice an unfathomable crime drama captured as beautiful gaslit dissonance between background societal unrest, the case at hand, and the audiences’ unsuspecting role as the potential suspect. The screener provided is a digital screening link and might appear different in a theater sitting. The English subtitles were clearly visible with some minor errors in spelling. Again, this might vary in theaters. There were no bonus material on this screener, but, remember, that the limited run event on October 19th and 20th will have the exclusive bonus content and the Wright and Bong conversation. Unforgettably wrung with wraith-like anecdotal properties, “Memories of Murder” can be labeled as Bong Joon-Ho’s exemplary film, even better than his current work that won him an Oscar.

A Lonely Mind Plays Evil Tricks. “Visitors” review!


Yachtman Georgia Perry aims to be a part of the best of the best by joining a handful of women who’ve sailed around the world. The rules are simple: don’t step on land, don’t let anyone step on your boat, and don’t turn on your outboard motor. As Perry heads out into the open ocean, the 25-year-old carries with her a burden of lifetime baggage stemming from her mother’s acute depression and gruesome suicide, her father’s accident and deteriorating health, and the bond between her and her boyfriend Luke coming unraveled. Combine all that weight with complete isolation, loneliness, and no wind to push her sails, Georgia quickly spirals downward into a turbulent state with her only traveling companion being her cat with whom she has conversations on her becalmed sloop. All her fears come to fruition, blurring the line between reality and disturbing fantasy that threatens her voyage and, maybe, even her life.

Bayside Pictures presents “Visitors,” the last helmed feature by the late Richard Franklin of “Psycho II” and “F/X2” fame. “Razorback” writer Everett De Roche penned the 2003 psychological thriller and is able to conjure out some wicked mind buckling material of a woman subjected to cabin fever in the form of a volatile, non-linear story. Franklin adds his two-cent charm with impressive visual sets and effects from the early turn of the century, implementing CGI where appropriate, being practical when deemed, and, by golly, the effects resulted didn’t come out too shabby. The ocean has always been beautiful, yet terrifying mystery that has yet to be fully explored, and Franklin’s able to capture the ominous anomaly that associates with the deep blue sea under an overwhelming guise of mental health and severe isolated confinement.

Before she wandered into “Silent Hill,” but after becoming forsaken in “Pitch Black,” Radha Mitchell showed strength in solitary by playing the headstrong, nautically ambitious sailor, Georgia Perry. Mitchell, who was slightly older than her 25-year-old character, fabricates a troubled young woman willing to risk it all, even her life, even if it meant to leave to escape all her woes and that she holds dear at home. The “Rogue” and “The Crazies” remake actress from Melbourne has a sensationalized and systematic dynamic with her on-screen mother, played by the late Susannah York, in what’s considered to be a disturbing role of manipulative motherhood that forced Georgia to be extremely close and clingy to her endearing father, an underrated role bestowed upon Ray Barrett. A young and upcoming Dominic Purcell (“Blade: Trinity” and “Primeval”) costars as Georgia’s lover and business manager who may or may not have other underlying intentions with Georgia’s sponsors. Appearing never together and putting Mitchell at the epicenter of their lives, the foursome played their roles beautifully by stretching the limits of reality without being overly absurd to the point of being unbecoming of a thriller.

By no means is “Visitors” a woman versus nature premise. Yes, Georgia faces any elements that would plague any sailor who ventured into the ocean alone, but nature was only accessorial. “Visitors,” for the sake of being funny, is more of a film about a young girl embarking on a journey of self discovery. Georgia must get away from negativity that has been eating at her zealous spirit ever since the terrible childhood accident that had crippled her father and destroyed her parents’ marriage. Her embattled mother’s constant belittling, berating, and blaming is the brunt of that that has been burdening. At sea, Georgia battles her onshore demons, which also includes her father’s failing health and her failing relationship with Luke, and coinciding is her ever present looming and underlying fears that lurk out into manifestation, or a visitation if you will, during severe cabin fever. The trip around the world won’t kill her, but her inner demons just might which begs the question if “Visitors” is more of a mental health film and the answer is a firm yes without salty doubt.

Umbrella Entertainment releases “Visitors” onto a region 4 home entertainment DVD. The DVD is beyond an upgrade from it’s region 1 counterpart in the image and audio departments. The anamorphic widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, renders a cleaner image with slightly more natural color tone as well as offering more film flesh on either side from the 35mm negative. The English Dolby 5.1 audio track offers a range of diversity. The dialogue is clear and fine, the ambient track syncs with ample depth, and the brooding and perilous soundtrack from composer Nerida Tyson-Chew (“Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid”) provides a delectable varied score to Georgia’s though process. The extras are thin, not much different from the Stateside release, including a photo gallery, cast and crew bios, and the Palace Film’s theatrical trailer. Considered widely as an Australian ozploitation film, “Visitors” is deep-seeded, mental trench warfare on the high seas set on a course of psychological doom. A fine film for being Richard Franklin’s last hurrah.

In A World of Evil, An Embryo Becomes the Hero. “Mécanix” review!

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In a dystopian of metallic wires, continuously spinning gears, and nightmarish creatures, human beings are being driven extinction, enslaved by these same terror creatures that rule the human’s once empowered world. Rounded up like mindless cattle for vivisection, humans dwindle in numbers and in spirit. When one human stumbles upon the embryo, the only object to which the creatures fear and the reason for the humans being vivisected, a new hope of freedom emerges out from the last of the human beings as the last freeborn man implants the embryo inside him. As the horrid creatures learn of the embryo’s whereabouts, a means to an end of their existence drives a frantic frenzy of nonstop destruction before their race becomes obliterated by the embryo’s uniting power.
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“Mécanix” is a stop-motion, German Expressionistic film that’s a hard sell for most audiences. Director Rémy M. Larochelle and producer Philippe Chabot have extracted hell and beauty out of an idea of post technology cataclysm inspired by the DIY filmmaking. Spanning over a four year production and then another ten 13 years until U.S. DVD distribution, the 2003 released “Mécanix” creeps to make a cult film impact, but Larochelle’s film is making an impact nonetheless. The experimental nature, the stop-motion effects, and the entrenched expressionism of symbolism makes “Mécanix” unique and memorable thats a labor of love stemmed from Larochelle’s painting, drawings, and sculptures.
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Back more than a decade ago, Larochelle sought to display technology and human interaction organically. The film doesn’t necessarily setup the series of cataclysmic events and lays down layers of assumption that humans have created technology and technology eventually goes Terminator coup, but, as if believing in the existence of the circle of life, technology can’t maintain without the human element and so they’re alignment ultimately comes together. “Mécanix” is a representation of that alignment that’s deeply subjective and disturbing, yet oddly fascinating, hooking automated teeth into an unsuspecting viewer.
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Aforementioned, “Mécanix” took four years to completely conjure into a 70-minute motion picture feature. Within that time span, Larochelle painstakingly and thoroughly guides every aspect of the special effects, creating reality and fantasy together from through a 16mm camera to the spectacular finished product on screen, making the composited material flush and fitting for visual consumption. Also, ambient audio flawlessly helps bringing the sculpted terrifying creatures come alive who wield bulbous arms of clanky rebar and fleshy pulp, bares unidentifiable skulls protruding through cyborg tissue, and slither across the floor through dark crevices and nooks.
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“Mécanix” isn’t an overly gory film, but it’s a hellishly wretched one coming out of Canada. Brief scenes of self-mutilation and depicted re-arrangements of the human anatomy are as about as graphic as “Mécanix” gets, subtly hinting more at explicit content. Stéphane Bilodeau’s freeborn man character, the male lead, and Julie-Anne Côté’s character, the female lead, born from the embryo have light weight speaking roles. The creatures communicate much more of their need for the embryo, giving inanimate characters a good slice of the dialogue, yet Bilodeau and Côté singularly convey their scenes appropriately despite never being in the same scene together. The two main characters present the only non-mechanical beings. Even the humans who are enslaved have a rigidness about them, android-like, while serving their master creatures, who some even don the use a wheelchair to move around – technology needs technology to maintain life sustainability.
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Unearthed Films and MVDVisual brings the IPS Films, Creatio Ex Hihl & Avant-Gore Films “Mécanix” to the U.S. home entertainment market 13 years after the world premiere. Being Rémy M. Larochelle’s only feature film to credit, the director can’t be compared to his other work obviously, but “Mécanix” is a fine debut, especially with the amount of sacrifice put into his inspired “Begotten” similar artistic style. The DVD is presented in a in 1.33:1 full screen aspect ratio with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix that’s suitable for the drowning tone soundtrack from Southern Lord’s doom metal group Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine. The video quality is an attribute to 16mm standards, containing speckles of imperfections that simple add to the charm. The only extra included is an unorganized, yet entertaining interview with director Rémy M. Larochelle and Philippe Chabot, geeking out over answering prepped questions about the film’s formation and inspiration. “Mécanix” rarity will be the prayerful hope and the ultimate declination towards the film’s success as the market for experimental is never catchy with audiences, but the uncontrollable gawking over the “Mécanix” mechanical creatures and practical effects becomes unavoidable.

Buy “Mecanix” at Amazon! Experimental stop-motion horror that’s can’t be unseen!