Saturday, 27 November 2010


One of the more unsettling trends in modern cinema is the pseudo-snuff film, designed to trick the viewer into believing they are witnessing an actual murder. This trend is manifest in Hollywood’s brief obsession with torture porn, but few prominent films have chosen to combine the gore with another contemporary trend, the handheld first-person horror. Enter Korea’s The Butcher, a low-budget independent feature just over an hour in length. The titular character is the pig-masked leader of a group of snuff filmmakers, who keep a selection of victims tied up in a basement in preparation for their films. In between torturing their captives into terrified silence, the group discusses the best ways to profit from their horrific scheme.

Clearly inspired by visceral B-movies and Japanese V-cinema, there is nothing new in The Butcher that hasn’t already been achieved, and one wonders what, if anything, director Kim Jin-Won is trying to say. The film switches between the views of two cameras, one held by a member of the Butcher’s group, the other attached to a female victim. One could be generous and suggest that Kim is making a statement about the sort of viewer who indulges voyeuristically in the genre, but there is too much fantasy in the film’s construction for the director to be excused. To his credit, there are moments where it is easy to forget that this is a fiction film, the low production values adding to the realism, but for the most part, The Butcher deserves no attention.

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