The Meat Grinder (Cheuuat gaawn chim) (2009)

Human foie gras.
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Meat Grinder (Cheuuat gaawn chim)

Initial glances of Tiwa Moeithaisong's bloodthirsty Thai shocker Meat Grinder (Cheuuat gaawn chim) makes you think you are watching Mrs. Lovett serving up Aunt Mei's Dumplings with enough monosodium glutamate to blind all beholders. On this level the movie works very well with plenty of vermillion spilt at the hands of a violently expert butcheress named Buss. As the movie progresses the depths of the story become deeper and some confusion ensues as the back-story is slowly presented and the driving force behind the tormented noodle shop owner becomes more apparent. The story continues to evolve and soon begins to emit an empathic sympathy for the deranged yet troubled focal point of the movie.

There is a nice balance of brutal violence, slow painful torture and stomach churning depravity all wrapped up in a disconcerting yet nicely paced story, maintaining interest throughout and soaked in a layer of brilliant crimson. The special ingredient in Buss' noodles is soylent green and this is obvious from the offset so no spoilers here, the beauty of Meat Grinder is the arduous process the human ingredients endure to maintain the high quality meat that Buss' customers expect. The meat has to be hung, tenderised and undergoes a process that PETA protesters, duck families of Foie Gras victims and galvage-widows would cherish as a means of retribution to any farmers force-feeding animals for the purpose of satisfying the hunger pangs of rich snobs. As is often the case in Asian horror movies there is no aversion to showing cruelty to children plus the voices in the killer's head add a slightly supernatural feel which is subtle enough to be effective rather than seeming like J-Horror influenced Thai film.

The attention to visual detail is superb with a mixture of vibrant colour, black and white and sepia tones as it flits through flashbacks, reality and hallucinations which overall works as it adds to the confusion of viewing inhumane acts through the eyes of an obviously mentally damaged individual. The music that accompanies the visuals is also well thought through and is a mixture of styles used in effective and sometimes inappropriate ways. The love scene with the romantic music interspersed with scenes of human butchery works beautifully to skull fuck the viewer and sets the tone of the movie from one of disgust to one of compassion, at which point emotions are confused and draws the viewer in deeper as they struggle with morality issues regarding who is in the wrong.

Buss is the victim of abusive parents and forced marriage to a man more interested in the babysitter. The attempted murder of her daughter at the hands of her husband pushes her mental capacities into overload and she decides to kill two birds with one kitchen utensil (not a cup.. that's a different movie) and removes her husband and the babysitter from the equation while enhancing the profitability of her noodle business.

Buss' ex had various gambling debts, the babysitter had a boyfriend and soon the ingredients come out of the woodwork to claim their dues and are providing some new taste sensations for the general public. Buss is demented and delusional but doing quite well in business until the ruination of all successful businesses comes along... namely love. The extent of the deranged noodle maker's delusions becomes apparent and the family noodle profession is doomed to fail.

Meat Grinder ticks numerous boxes and while the gore is abundant the storyline is still multifaceted and coherent enough to maintain interest and not give away too much too soon. Despite being far from a depiction of a possible reality the story is executed in a way that makes it wholly believable for the duration of the movie. A number of emotional struggles are addressed such as the effect of child abuse, child loss and scorned love on an individual and how these emotions can be misinterpreted by an unstable mind in a fucked up society. The actresses and actors give an exemplary performance to make their characters convincing amid the cacophony of pain and bloodletting and Mai Charoenpura is pleasing to the eye plus a mean motherfuck with kitchen utensils. Societal reflections can be made and the movie leaves a feeling of understanding for Buss' dastardly deeds, the ending is abrupt and flashback revelations have been done before in the same way many times but it gives closure and a feeling that all is well in the world despite it being far from it.
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies

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