After a man is brutally murdered, an unemployed neighbour becomes obsessed with a horrific conspiracy he believes connects to both the case and the strange denizens of his neighbourhood.
When approaching Murder Death Koreatown, the audience must traverse one of two scenarios. Either this is a faux documentary/ found-footage, fictional piece spun out from a real-life tragedy, or it’s a complete fiction conceived and executed by a low-budget filmmaker (and local community) on his smartphone or digital camera. If it’s the latter, then there’s potentially a heart-warming, Be Kind Rewind-style story behind its creation.
If it’s the former, it puts MDK in the ethically muddy waters that The Amityville Horror franchise has wallowed in for forty-one years. Either way, this is a poorly realised movie that inadequately juggles the format.
The amateur documentarian who we spend the entire runtime with is oddly mannered and hard to follow.
One imagines his leaps of logic, inability to read certain social cues and wild assumptions are a symptom of a poor screenplay. This is a spasmodically paced and confoundingly written horror that clearly lacked the discipline of fine-tuning the concept.
You can discount the fact that this is a low (almost no) budget indie horror. You can discount the fact it offers up a cast of unknowns and what is likely non-actors. Dialling MDK right back, there’s a faint whiff of The Blair Witch Project but without the sturdy narrative, measured pacing or competently handled conclusion. This isn’t a case of a movie having a solid narrative buried beneath the detritus.
There is no amount of editing that could excise the fact that at its core, Murder Death Koreatown is an ineptly written, morally dubious and racially questionable movie. The central focus is on a man who is channelling Neil Breen levels of performance. With that in mind, I fully understand how MDK will appeal to a very specific audience.
In the spirit of trying to find a positive element to Murder Death Koreatown, the score and sound design are easily the most compelling element. These are otherworldly and distinctive in that they are competently produced, enveloping this woeful narrative with substantial and effective soundscapes.
In the 21st Century, anyone with access to a smartphone or store-bought digital camera can make a film. Many of us are fortunate enough to have the means to write, record, edit, distribute and market our creative endeavours from a device that fits in our pocket. My main takeaway from Murder Death Koreatown is that just because you ‘can’ make a movie, it doesn’t necessarily mean you ‘should’.
Murder Death Koreatown is now available to rent/buy on Prime Video: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0867N5M16
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