MEAT GRINDER Review [A Good Find For Gorehounds]

Posted by Peter Hall - September 6th 2010 @ 12:56 am

Written and Directed by Tiwa Moeithaisong, 2009

I feel like I use the “I normally don’t like…” phrase often enough that it has lost a bit of its heft.  After a while one would think that enough qualifications of “normally don’t like” would mean that I do indeed like a specific type of film, but the reality is that I see so many dreadful movies of a certain kind that when I do finally feel motivated to write about one, it’s because it truly was an exception.  With that in mind… I normally don’t like hardcore gore films, but I dug the hell out of the Thai stomach churner, MEAT GRINDER.

Those who know my tastes know that I have a soft spot for Asian films, particularly of the Korean and Thai variety.   But even though I’m predisposed to liking Thai horror films, I typically don’t like their gore-heavy entries.  They have such a rich, superstitious culture worth delving into that it’s almost disappointing to watch them attempt to dabble in more Western flavors.  MEAT GRINDER, however, is a captivating blend of Thai ideology, particularly of family relationships and the subservient role of women in the home, mixed with a sickening mastery of nasty make-up effects that look as though they’ve slipped out of the darker side of European horror.  The title alone should give it away, but if you have a sensitive stomach, MEAT GRINDER will rip it out of your chest and make you eat it.

The initial setup seems a bit SWEENEY TODD-ish considering it involves a destitute woman who turns her rent-demanding landlord into a entree at her noodle shop, but though it’s easily marketed as such, Tiwa Moeithaisong’s film is a far cry from another cannibalistic cuisine movie.  At its core MEAT GRINDER is about a, well, batshit insane woman who has taken all she can from the world.  She’s been dealt a miserable hand in life and she’s finally broken.  Unfortunately for the meddling men and women in her life, that means she’s probably going to break their lives, too.  Don’t worry though, most of them have it coming.

Actually, that’s not entirely true.  While most of the people she starts slicing and dicing are despicable human beings, it’s tough to say that any of them have “it” coming; “it” being some of the most grizzly horrors one can imagine the human body being put through.  I’m always impressed at the special make-up effects that world class artists can deliver, but it’s rare that my mind is capable of suspending disbelief.  Even if I’m never taken out of the movie, my mind is always registering what’s on screen as just a bit of movie magic.  The difference between a lot of films and MEAT GRINDER is that there are a number of times where I can’t discern the magic behind the movie.

That’s not to say that the film achieves unprecedented levels of realism, just that Moeithaisong is wise enough not to relish in his gore.  He uses it casually and dismissively, as if, for example, people hanging from hooks by their belly fat is just no big deal.  The reason I hate most American gore flicks is because they’re made by clearly immature filmmakers who are so enthralled with finally being able to gross people out that they have to shove everything in your face.   Call films of that ilk torture porn if you like, I don’t really care– whatever the label, the emphasis on plastering massive amounts of visual pain onto the viewer’s face just comes off as very single minded and mean spirited to me.

The killer in MEAT GRINDER is clearly not just a proxy for the director, however.  She doesn’t delight in torturing her victims in the same way some filmmakers delight in torturing their audience.  She’s just a crazy person who treats the people around her like they’re annoying bugs she can swat to the ground and then curiously dissect.  The circumstances of her craziness, however, are surprisingly sympathetic, which is one of the main reasons that her vengeance is oddly understandable despite the extreme magnitude of it.

It’s not all rosey, though.  The majority of the film is wonderfully photographed and scored, but there are a few editing tweaks here and there that just reek.  It’s a bit jarring how quickly the film can change from professional horrors to amateur drama (Moeithaisong doesn’t appear to have the hang of/budget for showing chaos, so a few of the more visually hectic scenes suffer accordingly), but fortunately those bits are few and far between and they hardly define the film as a whole.  What does define MEAT GRINDER, however, is its impressive ability to make the audience want to flee from and hug its villain simultaneously.

[MEAT GRINDER is currently available on Region 2 DVD from]

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  1. jedediah strutt
    October 5th, 2010 | 1:16 pm | #1

    Hey Peter, just so you know, i’m not one of these cynical fellows who plaster the internet with fatuous rants, and i am a huge horror fan and ‘gore hound’. I just felt it necessary to reply to this, having just watched Meatgrinder and been terribly dissapointed. I though the ‘gore’ was very tame and the editing was bad to the point of unbearable. I gave up watching before the end and not for the reasons i had hoped. That said, good work man! Cool site.

  2. October 6th, 2010 | 1:41 am | #2

    Thanks for the comment, man, I more than welcome dissenting opinions. I’ve talked to a few friends lately who have seen MEAT GRINDER as well and I’m starting to realize I’m in the minority on this one…

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