Friday, July 24, 2015

Film Review: Our Town (2007)

Our Town (Review)
Jeong Gil-yeong/Oh Man-seok/2007
Where To Watch:
Netflix Instant
Amazon Instant

"...explores the serial killer psyche while providing plenty of thrills and chills."

A serial killer terrorizes a small town by crucifying his female victims in public locations...

Our Town follows Kyung-ju (Oh Man-seok), a struggling crime novelist with piling debt. One day, Kyung-ju murders his landlord and copies the serial killer's methods. Meanwhile, Jae-sin (Lee Sun-kyun), Kyung-ju's detective friend, searches for any evidence leading to the elusive serial killer – oblivious of Kyung-ju's actions. At the same time, the actual serial killer, Hyo-i (Ryu Deok-hwan), continues his murder spree and teases Kyung-ju while doing so. So, Kyung-ju and Jae-sin team up to catch him while unraveling the secrets of their pasts. The film leads to a satisfying climax and ending – the ending was a little dragged out, though.

Before I delve deeper into this review, don't worry, I didn't spoil anything significant by revealing the serial killer's true identify – it's blatant from the start and it reveals itself before the first act is completed. (It's also blatantly on the movie poster.) Anyway, Our Town is a great crime-thriller. It explores the serial killer psyche while providing plenty of thrills and chills. There are more than a handful of creepy and disturbing scenes. Although it's not particularly gory or torturous, there are some grizzly murders to behold. It certainly leaves an impression through its visual presentation, offering many shivers and tremors. The psychological aspects are also strong. Hyo-i is a textbook serial killer, which isn't bad at all – as a Criminal Justice graduate, I loved watching the Macdonald Triad unfold.

Our Town does have its fair share of faults, however. First and foremost, there is a lack of balance. The film begins with a strong focus on Kyung-ju and his actions, then quickly shifts perspectives. From there, it begins to hop between Hyo-i and the investigation, almost completely forgetting about Kyung-ju. Secondly, the film is sloppily fragmented. I don't mind flashbacks, but its utilization this time around causes too much confusion. The characters aren't as clear, which makes you wonder who's who and what's what. This makes a smooth ride unnecessarily bumpy. Fortunately, it does come full circle for a very chilling revelation – you just have to work for it.

The cast is strong. Oh Man-seok and Lee Sun-kyun are great, more than serviceable. Ryu Deok-hwan excels with his sinister performance; his innocent appearance blended superbly with his creepy actions to create a very disturbing and lasting performance. The film is also shot very well – I liked the very grungy, dark style. The music matches the dark tone of the film perfectly. Director Jeong Gil-yeong crafts a chilling thriller. There are some issues with the storytelling, particularly with the handling of the flashbacks, but it's otherwise a very stylish and disturbing thriller.

Overall, Our Town is very good film. Thanks to its interesting plot, grizzly style, and great performances, especially from Ryu Deok-hwan, Our Town leaves a strong impression. The film's most glaring issue is its poor use of flashbacks, which partly spoils the experience and causes more confusion – honing these segments would've made this film close to perfect, but I digress. If you're a fan of films like The Chaser and I Saw The Devil, this film is certainly worth watching.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some brief nudity.

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