THAILAND 2009 Directed by: Tiwa Moeithaisong Written by: Samonggu Produced by: Poj Arnon Cast: Mai Charoenpura, Rattanabanlang Tosawat, Anuway Niwartwong, Wiradit Srimalai
MEAT GRINDER is an interesting hotchpotch of a serial killer movie: a woman makes a living as a meat noodle seller, just like many others, only that her recipe has human meat, quite different from all others. The whole thing gets a bit complicated when she starts having a kind of lover who is actually missing a friend who was last seen around her food stall.
Who assumes that MEAT GRINDER is for gore hounds only will find out that the film is actually putting a lot of emphasis on psychology and the reasons for the killings. This is not a CAT III Anthony Wong flick, neither is it your average Thai splatter movie. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t seen it all before somewhere: traditionally Thai horror movies have always been borrowing what’s good from other Asian or Western genre movies and blended those influences with their very own ideas.
On a positive note there are several factors that set MEAT GRINDER apart from the average slasher: plenty of rationale, a detailed script, good actors, all that paired with some very gory moments. Tiwa Moeithaisong, being a DOP himself, has especially focused on cinematography: MEAT GRINDER is beautifully shot, with some Wong Kar Wai influence; hardly ever has a film of this kind looked that gorgeous.
On the other hand its strengths are also its weaknesses: MEAT GRINDER feels over-stylized and over-edited most of the time, with many visual gimmicks being used randomly, not following a clear structure. Are the black and white shots the past, or does it all happen right now? Well, neither and both, or something like that. Depends on the director’s mood, we’d say. Also MEAT GRINDER wants to justify its acts of violence with way too much psychology: half of the movie is spent on explanations, past events etc., compromising the story development to a certain degree. MEAT GRINDER could use more drive, more direction, more conflict right here and now instead of warming up yesterdays issues.
Where does it leave us? Those looking for a hardcore splatter movie will be disappointed, those expecting more of a drama / thriller will probably find MEAT GRINDER too gross and dirty. It’s not fast and raw enough, it’s not art house either. If you’re open minded and looking for some solid thrill avoiding many of the usual clichés you might find your match.
MEAT GRINDER is nearly there, trying to refine its recipe on the fly. It’s a dish in the making, but overall it’s not a bad effort.
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