Memories of Murder

Memories of Murder ★★★★½

The obvious American parallel here is to Zodiac. Both films are long, mirroring lengthy investigations into serial killings that go down side paths and rabbit holes at any given moment, and both wallow in a supremely disturbing sense of growing unease. Zodiac is in my top 100 of all time and as such, this film doesn't quite reach the heights of that one, but it's not off by much. The only issues I had were that the first 20 minutes or so might have been tightened up to ten to get us into the action a little faster and the strangely high frequency of flying kicks that a certain character does to just about anybody he meets. Otherwise, the film is really, really well done. It is from the director of Mother and The Host, and it shares those films' mix of humor and genre with a few terrifying scenes (one involving whistling which rivals Zodiac's basement visit for tension) which the director balances quite nicely. It's in the last half, though, as more and more young women are raped and killed, that the movie really gets great.

The two main cops on the case are polar opposites, one is by the book and from the big city called in to solve the case that has stumped the locals, led by a well-intentioned but semi-incompetent detective. It's a great pairing (again, like the one in Zodiac) and a dynamic one which evolves as the case deepens and things look more and more bleak. The film's atmosphere reflects that bleakness, the near constant rain is a plot point in addition to a Se7en-ly world builder. Though the movie is steeped in the tropes of the genre, it still provided a lot of twists and turns that surprised and delighted (or dismayed) throughout. It's smart and has an ending that will leave you thinking for a while. One of the best serial killer movies, and maybe the best Korean film I've seen.