Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Butcher (2007, Review)

Director:  Kim Jin-won

Cast:  Yoo Dongheun, Ha Yooyie, Kim Seongil, Lee Monnyeong, Seo Myeongheon, Kim Jin-won

Palisades-Tartan / Not Rated / NTSC Region 1 / 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo / Korean with English Subtitles / 75 Minutes / Purchase from TLAraw.com!
Films like Cloverfield and [REC] which use first person hand-held camera point of views have, in the past couple of years, multiplied like horny rabbits.  This type of camera work isn’t anything new, anyone remember 1999′s The Blair Witch Project?  Complaints by numerous viewers have created a stigma around the style; “it makes me nauseous,” “it gives me a headache,” or my personal favorite, “it makes me have to take a shit.”  Yes, that’s a real response used as a result of shaky hand cameras.  If intense camera instability creates these sort of effects, then wouldn’t the film achieve its purpose?  The whole reason the first person view exists is to place the viewer in the character’s shoes, simulating shared experiences.  Some films attain these objectives while others fizzle in wasted time.  Korea’s The Butcher doesn’t waste time getting to the violence and gore. The titular character brings out all kinds of emotions in the watcher from pity to hate.

Four individuals wake up in an abandoned chicken processing plant.  Bound and gagged, a camera lies attached to their heads.  Confused and disoriented, the foursome overhear plans of their demise to be in a snuff film shot by a person who calls himself “Director Kim” and his lackey Bong-sik.  Two of the four are whisked away leaving a married couple behind.  Chainsaw revs and blood-curdling screams along with a trashcan full of bloody body parts strike fear into the couple .  By this time, the couple were introduced to “the pig,” a mute, snorting, mask wearing star of this production.  The director offers the husband a deal; if he can withstand ten torture-filled minutes, the director will release his wife.  Will the husband’s strength free his love or will his fear overcome his chivalry?
For someone to make others feel a hammer induced crack of a cheek bone, a row of chainsaw teeth against soft flesh or a pop of an eye coming from out the socket proves that first person view has significantly more impact in this case than that of the omniscient viewer.  Director Kim Jinwon, playing “Director Kim” in the film as well, takes away the third person, all knowledgeable observer.  Kim wants you to be alone in the unknown and with a shit-ton of fear.  He creates the perfect atmosphere, providing ambiance like screaming, chainsaw grinds, sodomizing squishes and every little detail imaginable that could resemble the act. You heard right, I did say sodomizing.  With legs up in the air, the husband is savagely butt-fucked by “the pig” star, and I rarely become this way, but I felt uncomfortable about that scene because, again, you’re practically in that person’s shoes.
The torture of the couple runs the full ten yards:  they’re beaten, fingers are severed, raped, eyes are popped out and gorged, they’re repeatedly stabbed and to make things even more psychologically scary, they’re made to make choices for their partner.  For example, the hubby had the choice of creating his wife’s own death.  This scenario turns the audiences’ perceptions on certain characters.  I won’t spoil it for you but let’s just say that you won’t think of “Director Kim,” Bong-sik and “the pig” as the only assholes. Besides the realistic and grimace inducing scenes of gruesome brutality, the setting was very effective.  Unlike Hostel or Saw, this “torture porn” delight has one continuous location shot.  Though the location is the stereotyped wretched dump, it’s unique in that it’s a tiny location where as Hostel uses a massive warehouse with many rooms and Saw uses multiple locations.  “The pig” butchers in one claustrophobic location.
If “torture porn” isn’t your kind of entertainment, it would be best to leave The Butcher on the store shelf.  If you’re a fan of blood, guts and unimaginable, pointless violence against your fellow man, then pop this DVD in the player and start masturbating to all the violence that ensues. [ick. -Greg B.]  The anamorphic widescreen presentation was nice and the picture is clear for the most part but certain scenes were a little too dark. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo worked; that is all I can really say positively about that.  Basically, I’m trying to say that The Butcher is a must for any gore fiend so the aesthetics don’t matter. PIG IT UP… OINK!

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