The film Murder Death Koreatown, which recently had its world premiere at the Unnamed Footage Festival, is a play by play on the creation of a conspiracy theorist. It answers the question, where do the men screaming ‘the end is near’ on sidewalks come from? A truly wild ride that begins as a YouTube-style vlog, Murder Death Koreatown then escalates into a psychologically charged found footage film. It is eerie, it is thought-provoking, and the film’s direction and acting performances far exceed its low budget.
What do you do when you are seemingly “normal” but then a questionable event sends you slowly slipping into a madness of your own making? Murder Death Koreatown shows how dangerous the human mind is — how it can cause us to see patterns that seem meaningful when there is nothing really there. Through a steady series of pattern revelations and inferences, the perspective of the protagonist is left open to questioning. Are the clues real or are they only the machinations of a man grasping at straws? The film may be a satire taking aim at conspiracy theorists, in this regard, but the premise of a psychological descent fueled by a true crime investigation set an eerie and foreboding atmosphere that was impossible not to be sucked into.
In Murder Death Koreatown, an out of work man learns about a murder on his block in Koreatown, LA, one whose missing clues piques his interest enough to start a vlog investigating the homicide. As the blood thickens, he attempts to ask the neighbors for their eye-witness accounts, but everyone is suspiciously tight-lipped. When he begins to receive clues in the form of visions from the victim, the investigation takes a turn into an undercover paranormal realm. His girlfriend/roommate is skeptical of the investigation but asks her coworker to translate the writings he has found, which are reported to be the ravings of a madman warning of the presence of a group of “bad pastors”. More leads and uncanny coincidences bring him closer to the truth, but dangerously further away from his tangible reality.
If Murder Death Koreatown has one thing going for itself, this film is possibly the truest POV film ever — it is a pure “found” footage film that shows everything through one camera. The film’s attention to detail in hiding and showing information is what makes it so well done, and I commend the acting on this matter. Also, the film was so real because of its documentary and POV style that showed a refreshingly untouched visage of Los Angeles. It might not have meant to, but the film shines a glaring light on the disenfranchised homeless and how they seemingly live in a separate world of their own. The film is a series of POV interactions displaying the eccentric characters populating Los Angeles as we follow the anonymous cameraman down the rabbit hole of religious occultism and murder.
Taking advantage of natural lighting/shadowing, an unnerving and oscillatory musical score, and a sometimes disorienting handheld/POV aesthetic, Murder Death Koreatown shows how to make camcorder quality film work. MDK looks like the lowest budget movie I have ever seen, being a simple, hand-held camera affair, however, the film does so much with so little and it is truly an impressive accomplishment. Unfortunately, I cannot thank the director since the film is directed by “anon” to make this seem like an actual found footage tape, much in the fashion of The Blair WitchProject or Paranormal Activity. Murder Death Koreatown feels as authentic and as cinematically raw as these classic found-footage flicks, and though it may not have the same level of sustained terror as them, its similar authenticity makes it feel like it could be a classic as well.
MOVIE RATING — 7 out of 10 ☠️
Murder Death Koreatown was just released on VOD and is available to rent/buy on Prime Video.
Adrienne Reese is a fan of movies - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and came to the horror genre by way of getting over her fear of... everything. Adrienne also writes for the Frida Cinema, and in addition to film enjoys cooking, Minesweeper, and binge-watching Game of Thrones.