Prior to our 31 Days of Halloween feature starting, the staff here at TNM had a discussion about what constitutes a horror film. As a result, we identified that we had some pretty diverse opinions on the subject. One of the main films we talked about was The Silence of the Lambs, as it had won an Academy Award for Best Picture, and is widely regarded as a horror film. I argued that is was more of a thriller, but then Psycho was brought up as well as a few other movies most would consider horror that had no supernatural element.
I decided to watch Confession of Murder, a Korean serial killer thriller that I have been meaning to watch for a while now, to test the serial killer/horror aspect. Furthermore, anyone that wants to give an opinion on what makes a horror film, please feel free to comment here, or on any of our social media platforms.
Confession of Murder certainly has an interesting premise, and something we may not realize is different in other countries. In South Korea, until 2007 the statue of limitations on murder was 15 years. This film explores the premise with the question; What if, after time runs out, the killer just comes out of the woodwork and confesses? Consequently, what if he decided to write a book and make money off of it? Maybe he would even garner fans and become popular like other serial murderers. Unlike other killers that are dead or in jail, he could revel in his fame and go on tour or appear on TV, and no one could stop or arrest him.
The Movie Itself (3.5/5)
Our film starts in 2005, with Detective Choi chasing a man through a restaurant and then subsequently through the city. We have a unique take on an action sequence here. First, we have some frantic quick cuts getting the two men running from all angles. Then, the camera follows the pair alongside in what feels like one long take. The camera jumps through windows and off rooftops keeping up with this crazy game of cop and killer. Finally, we get to the standoff and the killer gets the upper-hand, he leaves Detective Choi with a nice little facial scar to always remember him.
While this provides a backdrop for our story, it leaves a ton of unanswered questions. Remember, this killer murdered between 1986-1990, so how did detective Choi find him, and where did this crazy chase sequence even begin? You will find no other information for this 2005 encounter other than references to what was shown on screen, so prepare to suspend your disbelief as needed. We will soon learn the motivation behind the detective’s continued tracking, but no actual details to how he found him.
The bulk of our movie takes place in 2007, when Lee Doo-suk comes forward with his new book and details all the murders. He follows the books release with an apology tour, meeting with the Detective and some of the victim’s families. We then get to meet some of the families and see that they have a plan to kidnap Lee Doo-suk, so they can find out where the missing 11th victim is, or at least where the body is buried. This starts the comedy portion of the film; well, dark comedy anyway. Like The Wailing, which I reviewed this week, Confession of Murder tries to blend genres. While The Wailing was mostly successful with it, this film seems to stumble slightly at the attempt.
The rest of the film follows the kidnapping attempt and the aftermath, which has a few twists and turns along the way. As much as you see some coming, there might be a few that surprise as well. While it isn’t the best Korean film I have watched this week, it certainly was entertaining. It has wonderful acting and production value. The story kept me engaged and interested. Even though there are some tense and scary scenes, I still wouldn’t call it horror per se. It does focus on a serial killer and provides some suspense, but the film seems more commercial. Along with using the Korean statute, it seems to also take parts from the Hwaseong serial murders, a real case. Only this victim is still a secret, instead of coming forward and being famous.
Visuals/Picture Quality (4/5)
Confession of Murder was shot digitally on a few different rigs; including the handheld during the action sequences. It sports a 2 K Digital Intermediate that looks great in most of the film. There is a slight loss of detail and clarity in some of the night scenes and with the action scenes being so fast and frenetic. Overall though, it is a solid transfer and most assuredly worth picking up the Blu-ray if you plan on watching the film.
Score/Audio Quality (3.5/5)
The score and sound vary from spectacular to non existent. The action scenes in the beginning, middle, and end all sound alive and vibrant. There is so much going on utilizing all of the speakers, and then just silence for most of the film. The dialogue is clear and there are no other issues. One of my favorite parts of the film is when Lee Doo-suk enters the police department and he gets his own entrance music to announce his arrival.
Special Features (1/5)
Behind the Scenes (04:59) Very poorly edited, provides some small insight. Worth watching due to the short length.
- Jung Jae-young, Detective Choi (03:21)
- Park Si-hoo, Lee Du-seok (01:56)
- Disc Art
- Aspect ratio: x.xx:1
- Korean: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Korean: Dolby Digital 2.0
Runtime 121 Mins
Confession of Murder Overall (3/5)
I enjoyed my time with Confession of Murder and would easily watch it again. In my eyes it is not really a horror film, but I will leave that up to the viewer, as opinions can vary greatly on genres. What you get is a solid serial killer thriller that brings some action and dark comedy into a unique story. Technical merits are more than adequate. Packaging and special features do leave much to be desired, but for a Blu-ray release, priced around $10, it is to be expected.