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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Review: The Butcher


The Butcher (2007)
Genre: Horror
Format: DVD
Director: Kim Jin-Won

Torture porn: it's a love it or hate it movie genre. I personally don't mind dark films that dare to push themselves beyond the boundaries of conventional cinema. Despite the rigid conventions of what a movie means to your casual moviegoers and cash-starved film producers, there are others who are more open minded about the extreme power and boundless potentials film-making. If you are one of the latter and you are interested to see the utter depravity of human evil, I present to you The Butcher. This low budget horror movie may not ever reach the popularity of the Hostel films, but those movies just cannot compare to how bleak this South Korean movie's representation of the horror of physical torture.

The movie has no plot framing it. Basically, you are just taken to a decrepit chicken farm to witness some people getting brutalized. Here's what's so remarkably brilliant about the movie: from the opening scene up to the credit roll, the whole entire event runs in real time. You watch the unfolding horror in two ways: a) the camcorder of the people video taping the tortures in hope of selling their masterpiece to the snuff film market, and b) the cameras strapped on top of the victims' heads. The movie doesn't overplay the victim-perpetrator perspectives too much though - for the most part, you will be seeing extended scenes from the camera of a male victim experiencing all the nastiness happening in front of him. The limited perspective switch ensures that the viewers get the full brunt of everything that occurs on screen. It's bad enough to see terrible things being done to a person. It's worse when you have to watch them through the victim's eyes.

With a running time of about 1 hour and 14 minutes, you can really tally up your body count. In The Butcher, it's not a matter of how many gruesome deaths you are able to witness. It's all about giving you an unadulterated look at the streaming consciousness of the victims during their final moments of life. The Butcher is a dark, dark movie. For the most part of the viewing, you constantly hear the whining cries and tearful pleas of these regular people who are constantly trying to survive through their ordeals. There is absolutely no pleasure to be found watching the movie. Instead, you will only find anguish, sadness, desperation, and pain here. I had to ask myself after the viewing: why did I watch the movie? I was looking for some form of entertainment. Was I entertained? No, the movie wasn't entertaining. But how was the viewing session? It made me sick to my stomach and it was psychologically draining - which is what the movie wants its audience to feel. The Butcher is a realistic portrayal of a day in the life of a snuff film production. This is not a movie, it's a unique experience albeit a nasty one with a long-lasting, sour aftertaste. For those of you looking for the ultimate torture porn, make an appointment with The Butcher. Just don't bleed too much, you'll see what I mean.

RATING: 5 out of 5

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