Movie Review: Anonymous filmmaker goes down the rabbit hole investigating “Murder Death Koreatown”

A classic philosophical conundrum is, “If a tree falls in the forest with nobody there, is there any sound?”

To that let me add, “If there’s a movie that appears, on DVD and the Internet, with no credits, did anybody make it?”

“Murder Death Koreatown” is a found footage mockumentary with no credits. Whatever creative energy went into making a generic first-person point-of-view “investigation of a murder” mystery, just as much has gone to conjuring an air of authenticity and “reality” to the movie, which as any film fan knows, did not just “appear,” shoot and edit itself.

They’ve built a website to deepen “the mystery.” I know “The Blair Witch Boys,” so pardon me if I pause here to roll my eyes.

We never see the filmmaker shooting his “investigation” of a bloody crime in his neighborhood via cell phone. We just hear his questions, his “impromptu” narration, see his attempts to reconstruct the crime, diagram the ways “it just doesn’t make sense” and question neighbors, his girlfriend and random homeless people in the W. Pico Blvd.  section of Koreatown where the crime took place.

And we watch him journey from curious to annoyingly obsessed on into paranoia and madness — Or IS he mad? — as he spirals deeper down the rabbit hole.

He hears “I think you’re overreacting” from his girlfriend, “As far I’m concerned, this is over” from a dismissive, officious neighbor (apparently not the building owner). He gets rejected, because not everybody wants a cell phone in their face as they’re being asked questions by an unemployed movie maker (LA has a lot of them).

“Maybe I’m just the world’s worst investigator,” he says. I can’t recall if that is before or after he visits the psychic.

While he refers to an online story of the murder — a woman allegedly stabbing her husband to death — he never speaks to the police who apparently treat this as an open and shut case. He doesn’t speak to the street preachers, whom he becomes convinced are leaving him messages, in Korean, scrawled on walls or an abandoned sofa along his street. But he becomes consumed by the ramblings of a homeless “guy in the alley,” and gets rude with everybody who doesn’t instantly buy into his mania. He’s having “dreams.”

And we never learn who this “camera shy” cinema detective is, because he…went nuts? Or doesn’t want credit for this clever-ish “48 Hour Film Project” quality production?

Just as well. “Koreatown” has a sharp sense of place and works, here and there, as a drama/mystery. If it’s interesting  at all it’s as a movie-making exercise. But it feels long and “OK, we GET it” repetitive, even at a mere 80 minutes in length.


MPAA Rating: unrated, blood, evidence of violence, profanity

Credits: No one wants credit for acting, directing, writing or distributing this.

Running time: 1:22

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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