It takes a lot to make someone with my film experience feel uncomfortable and "Save Me" manages it. The premiere episode packs the kind of punch we rarely see in Korean drama. The atmosphere is oppressive, the production quality great and prepare a cold shower for how sullied you will feel after meeting some of these characters. Episode one is all about exposition and preparing us for the present.
Right off the bat, the series looks and sounds stunning.The camera angles, the use of light and shadow, the careful use of special effects, everything just works well and creates cinematic quality material. The director of photography in particular is not messing around here and while no visuals can elevate a messy story, they can definitely complement a decent or good one, which I hope "Save Me" is going to be.
I simply love how slow and subtle, yet packed almost to the point of being stiffing this exposition is. Korean dramas are generally not good with characterization and establishing relationships with subtlety. Everything is exposed and in your face. "Save Me" shows us more than it tells us and therefore ends up saying a whole lot. It is the little things which do this, such as Im Sang-mi (Seo Ye-ji) holding her older brother's hand for his sake, rather than hers.
The creators trust their cast, which plays a big part in conveying a lot with very little. Most of the actors are great so far and even smaller roles contribute to the overall feeling of unease. Take the food delivery man, for example. His odd behavior at the car repair shop may just be because he is flustered in front of folks from the capital, but it still feels "off". "Save Me" makes sure that its townsfolk feel just suspiciously awkward enough to keep one alert.
It also gives us good reasons to be alert. Just how many people of this town is the cult bribing? It is just locals or is their network bigger? The surely drugged tea and the money must be coming from somewhere. I have no comforting guesses about what or who is used in generating funds for this cult, because I hear the victims locked up in their basement loud and clear.
I have a lot to say about "Save Me" and I will let my thoughts mature for now. Details aside, I am impressed with the first episode's quality in production and writing. I doubt "Save Me" will do well in the ratings, it is not "loud" enough for drama fan tastes, but I hope it will be a work deserving of any love it can get.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
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Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Save Me" Episode 1"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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