A monochrome montage opening credit sequence sets the precedent for Tiwa Moeithaisong’s Meat Grinder. Unsuccessfully blending stark, dreamy surrealism and ultra-violent butchery, this Asian flick is definitely one that will stoke controversy. It pretty much evokes every title from the Asian extreme line (Audition, Lady Vengeance, Ichi The Killer, Battle Royale, etc.) with more than one sly visual reference popping up in many of its overextended scenes.
The premise is something horror aficionados have seen all too often. I fondly remember an episode of Tales From The Crypt, featuring the late Christopher Reeve and Meat Loaf, which effortlessly managed to condense more humour, horror and suspense into 30 minutes than this film could in its entire blood splattered run.
Anyway, a bit about the film. The plot is wafer-thin. The character of Buss (Mai Charoenpura) is a spectre-like sociopath stalking empty streets in her pursuit of fresh meat. There is a guy who starts working for Buss as a waiter, looking for his missing brother (or was it his cousin, I can’t possibly remember). There is a vague backstory, but the exposition is so muddled that my eyes glazed with complete and utter boredom.
The story begins at Buss’ noodle stall where a riot interspersed with genuine archival footage inadvertently supplies her with her first victim. From here, it is all downhill, and soon Buss is hacking and hooking and beheading away to her twisted heart’s content. The director decided to throw in a romantic subplot, an interrogation scene and Buss sitting on a railway line while a train roars past (but that’s a dream, I think).
A strange little girl shows up occasionally to whisper in the madwoman’s ear (a figment of her imagination, I think), which is followed by more dismemberment, boiling heads, fingers cut off, Achilles heels ripped out with teeth. Honestly, this all gets pretty dull pretty fast.
This film could’ve worked, but it needs a lot more work to flesh it out. As the director and writer were introducing these characters, maybe a bit of background on the boy suspicious of our murderess would have benefited the story. I would’ve liked to know more about who he was and where he came from (despite the obvious search for his brother/cousin).
Buss could remain mysterious, as the viewer would be trying to work her and the exact nature of the character out anyway.
I needed to see all the nuances as a web that the director was linking, drawing the viewer into the world. Instead, we are offered scene after scene of almost wordless interaction and sloppy editing.
It wasn’t a complete fail, however, with the cinematography and setting of the killer’s noodle shop combining to create a caustic and claustrophobic atmosphere, all accompanied by a haunting score.
Buss had the potential to be a really intriguing character if the film’s makers had taken the time to explore her psychopathic mind in more depth.
Grotesque, The Human Centipede, Hatchet II, isn’t anybody else sick of these genre offerings already? I’m not the squeamish type, but I am bored with mutilation, maiming and prolonged scenes of human agony. Enough already.