Thursday, March 26, 2020

Murder Death Koreatown

It is a hoax or maybe a hoax of a hoax. There’s too much that doesn’t add up, but it is one of the most convincing found footage films—probably ever. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the protagonist any less annoying to spend time with. Still, someone out there is responsible for some eerily clever execution, but nobody has yet to claim responsibility for Murder Death Koreatown, which is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

According to publicity materials, MDK came about because a guy knew a guy who knew a guy. Supposedly, a film editor known simply as K Anon came into possession of footage sent to him by an old college buddy that he acquired from the filmmaker, a former friend of his who is now mysteriously missing. Initially, the editor was disturbed by the material, but he eventually stitched it together into this film. For the unknown filmmaker, it all starts with a tragic domestic murder in his Koreatown neighborhood. That Macguffin appears to be a true but not especially remarkable crime.

However, as our faceless protag pours over details of the crime, he starts to notice discrepancies, or at least he thinks he does. As his interest grows, he decides to shoot a guerilla documentary on the case. Soon, he is being pressured to drop his investigation by various neighborhood residents, because they either want to cover-up the truth or possibly they just find him obnoxious. His long-suffering girlfriend is not thrilled with the project either. Undaunted, he starts to suspect the involvement of a weird street preacher and other creepy Koreatown denizens. Rather ominously, he starts to believe secret messages have been left to him in the form of eccentric Korean graffiti scrawled throughout the neighborhood.

MDK is not exactly a horror movie per se, but it chillingly depicts a steady descent into utter madness. Aside from a few unsettling musical cues and audio effects K Anon presumably layered over U.N. Owen’s footage, the entire film really does look like it is cobbled together from footage recorded on a handheld device. Unlike most found footage movies, it is tough to catch MDK cheating. Everyone does their best to maintain the illusion. Seriously, there are no catering credits at the end of the film. Indeed, there are no credits at all.

Right from the start, the POV character is just too cringy for words. Still, it is impressive how dark the film is willing to go. It is easy to respect the chutzpah behind MDK, even though it is a hard film to love. Murder Death Koreatown is not exactly fun, but it is definitely something. Recommended for anyone out there who is particularly intrigued by the found footage genre, particularly its more DIY manifestations (in many ways it evokes the spirit of outsider art, especially in its use of graffiti), Murder Death Koreatown is now available for self-quarantine viewing on Amazon Prime.