The Butcher 

2009

While the packaging claims "The Butcher" was "too brutal and shocking to be released" in its native Korea, I'd like to think the powers that be simply found it too boring. Don't get me wrong: It's gory, all right, but it's more of a showcase in makeup effects than a feature film.

The story is so simple, it's practically not a story at all: A group of whacked-out, nihilistic thrill-killers have kidnapped several people and tied them up in a grungy slaughterhouse. They've also equipped them with helmets on which a video camera is mounted, so all 75 minutes of the movie is comprised of these little piggies' footage, beginning with a stage-setting shot of a man urinating.

Then, one by one, the people are tortured in all sorts of graphic manners "? some in disturbing close-up "? until one guy dares to attempt escape. His efforts make for the only truly suspenseful moments in the whole thing, but those precious few minutes literally arrive at the tail end.

I love horror movies, slashers included, but "The Butcher" is soulless. I will say the guy with the sewn-together pig mask has all the makings for an iconic villain, but that promise is unfulfilled. You can't serve up sadism without a story if you want to engage an audience, so an outright fizzle like this makes you appreciate the artistry "? yes, I said artistry "? behind Eli Roth's "Hostel" duo.

"?Rod Lott

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