Bong Joon Ho’s masterpiece ‘Memories of Murder’ was an instant hit with both critics and audiences alike. Released in 2003, the film went on to win the prestigious Grand Bell Awards(South Korea) as well as ended being the most watched South Korean Film of the year. The film was soon warmly received by film buffs around the world, including the likes of Quentin Tarantino who had listed it in his top 20 films since 1992.
Based on a true story, the film covers the events that took place in between 1986-1991 in the rural parts of Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. In a usually calm and mundane rural environment, the peace is interrupted by a series of killings.
We follow the investigation through the eyes of some incompetent policemen. Using the characters and the subject, Bong Joon Ho perfectly manages to transform and shift his way through various different genres and themes along the way. It is fearless and spontaneous as it ranges from slapstick comedy, to suspense, to conflict etc. ‘Memories of Murders’ has been characterised by some of the critics as ‘impossible to categorize’. If you find the spontaneity and complexity of the film intriguing, here is the list of top films similar to Memories of Murder that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like Memories of Murders on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
10. True Detective (Season 1)
Ok! I cheated. I know I’m not supposed to include anything else apart from films on the list but this particular one rings too close to Bong Joon Ho’s masterpiece. True Detective is different in a lot of ways possible, yet one can’t help but draw together the similarity in themes and tone between the two. True Detective is an excellently crafted Tv series that follows two state police detectives investigating a series of brutal murders around smaller towns in Louisiana. The two main characters here(played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) are far superior in the art of investigations compared to our protagonists in Memories of murders. But in both, the investigators are distinctly flawed and their personal problems produce obstacles and hindrance from their pursuits of their killers.
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9. The Boston Strangler (1968)
The Boston Strangler is a Neo noir film directed by Richard Fleischer, based on the true story of the ‘Boston Strangler’. The film follows an investigation of a serial killer who has been randomly murdering elderly women.
The first half takes us from one suspect to another as we see the film almost entirely through the eyes of the investigator. The lack of clues, as well as inconsistencies in the cases are at times frustrating but the ambiguity and inconclusiveness also provide more realism. The film has been criticised of containing ‘distorted facts’ and ‘exploitation of the case for entertainment purposes. But almost half a century later, the film still manages to be gripping and the performances as well as the visuals and use of sound remain widely appreciated.
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8. Prisoners (2013)
Denis Vileuneve is easily one of the most exciting directors working today. The Canadian director has hit everything off the park so far, and ‘Prisoners’ is one of his most impressive work. The film is emotionally complex, rich in depth and provides a puzzle that is convincing once you piece it together.
The suspense never lets up till the credits roll and the ending is equally gut wrenching. Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Viola David, Paul Dano, it is hard to find a better cast in a psychological thriller film.
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7. Se7en (1995)
David Fincher’s ’Seven’ is a neo-noir crime thriller with an Allstar cast featuring Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey. Brad Pitt portrays as young up and coming immature detective, while Freeman’s character is experienced, composed and is often the voice of reason in the film.
‘Sin’ is the motive for the killer in the film, and in a world full of violence and agony, ‘sin’ is something that causes serious distress to almost every character in the film. The performances are spectacular, especially by Pitt and Spacey. The score by Howard Shore, I feel is by far the most underrated aspect of the film.
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6. The Wailing (2016)
Next on the list is another Korean masterpiece called ‘The Wailing’ which premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and was received with a very well deserved standing ovation. The film is categorised as ‘Supernatural Horror’, but like ‘Memories of Murder’ it plays around with different themes, genres and does so quiet effortlessly.
‘The Wailing’ starts off as a murder mystery and soon progresses into a full out horror film. The comedy is brilliant, and the characters are relatable despite being stupid at times(it’s a horror film, what do you expect). The setting of the film will also strongly remind you of Memories of murder.
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