Dir. Kim Jin-won (2007)
A unique take on extreme horror, giving us a first-person perspective on the creation of a snuff film.
CAUTION: THIS MOVIE'S SUBJECT & CONTENT IS EXTREMELY DISTURBING AND/OR BRUTAL. I HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO INCLUDE ANY PICTURES IN THIS REVIEW BECAUSE THEY MAY BE UPSETTING TO SOME READERS. MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
Sometimes, even if a movie isn't good, it can be innovative enough that its worth it. Whether its worth watching, or worth making, sometimes its just worth it. That's the best way I can think to describe The Butcher. This little known flick from South Korea was definitely a unique take on the torture porn genre, largely because of its use of helmet cams to give a first person view of the action. In fact, quite a lot of the movie is seen from these cams, giving us a peek inside what its like to be a torture porn victim. Doesn't that sound fun?
The movie is about a director who makes movies for "an audience" that is apparently full of sickos. His movies largely feature the rape and torture of random people by a weird freak in a pig mask, which appears to be just a pigs head sewn into a mask. Now, a pig mask is not something I would ever think of: I don't particularly find pigs scary, but it seems like everyone and their brother are making their horror baddies into pig-masked weirdos nowadays. And, apparently, there really is something scary about a dude in a pig mask, because this killer is scary and effective when he's terrorizing his victims.
The crazy pig man (or CPM, as he will heretofore be known) was really the only scary thing about this movie. So apparently the pig mask works, I guess? I dunno, I'd go with clowns, personally. Much scarier to many more people. Maybe its just the outright weirdness of a guy in a pig mask. I dunno, I'm kinda going off on a tangent here, but it's an interesting trend in horror that I haven't really seen explored before.
This movie used something called cinéma-vérité, a style of film that can be applied to the found footage sections of this movie. Literally cinema-truth, it is, essentially, footage that is shown from a real-life perspective, or something that is experienced without the presence of a director to guide the footage. Now, obviously, there generally is a director, but its meant to make it feel as if there's not one. One interesting thing about this film is that, while it used this technique, there was a director who was intentionally using this technique to produce his movies. Kinda meta, I suppose.
There were some decently extreme moments in this movie, as any movie that contains anal rape by a pig monster tends to do. One scene that I found fairly disturbing was a scene in which the director tells the man that he's torturing that if he can last for something like two minutes without giving up, he will let the girl that he is also torturing, who happens to be the first man's wife, go free. The victim agrees, and can't last after the aforementioned rape. Then, in a twist of fate, he is allowed to be freed after he comes up with a new and unique way for his significant other to be tortured that they have yet to film. He runs away, all viewed through his helmet cam, and then, of course, the torturers and CPM come after him. He ends up escaping when the director's assistant blows himself up with a homemade gun (there's more to this in the movie, but its not really interesting outside of the token comic relief), and he actually makes it to the road, where he kills a random man who may or may not be part of the snuff ring. He then takes a car and drives off, leaving CPM to dance around in a field with his chainsaw, a la Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The inspiration for that was pretty clear to anyone who's seen both, as its almost shot for shot at that point.
This movie was interesting and innovative, but fairly boring otherwise. A lot of the things that the torturers do is seen off-screen, so that kinda takes away from the gore factor. But the helmet cam thing was pretty cool, though it allowed for less gore than you'd usually see from these types of films. Obviously you can't helmet-cam film what's happening to yourself, so we really only see it first person view. But, again, I really think that the innovation in this was worth it being made. I'm not aware of any other film that has done this with the camera. Innovation will, eventually, lead to someone doing it right, even if this wasn't it. And that, my friends, is a good thing no matter how you look at it.
Who this movie is for: Found footage fans, Gorehounds who don't mind a little less gore, Pig mask fetishists
Bottom line: Worth a watch if you're a found footage fan, and worth a watch if you like innovation in your movies. Not worth a watch if you don't like poorly done innovation, or only watch these movies for the gore. You'll be disappointed. True "horror cinema" fans will probably enjoy it, regular horror movie fans probably won't.