Chaw (2009)

South Korea is a hot bed of horror movie making and a rising force in the film industry. So far it has given us the amazing auteur Park Chan-wook, classic killer flicks like The Host and R-Point along with a whole bloody bunch of imaginative movies already remade by Hollywood including A Tale of Two Sisters and Into the Mirror.

Dubbed K-Horror the movies emerging from Korea are a quirky creepy celluloid collection always imaginative and always worth a watch and Chaw is the latest edition to that list.
Set in a sleepy, small, supposedly crime-free village, the story follows recently transferred big city cop Kim Kang-soo (Tae-woong Eom). Believing he will spend his days giving speeding tickets to tractors, he ends up involved in a very different and deadly investigation.

In the mountains the mutilated remains of a young girl is found, and rumours start to fly around that it is the work of a giant flesh eating wild boar. As the people panic, hired-in hunters appear, along with fame hungry research scientists, all eager to be the first to bag the bloodthirsty boar. However capturing and killing the beast wont be as easy as bringing home the bacon, and soon the whole village is on its menu.

Killer pigs are not a new invention and although Chaw is reminiscent of Razorback interestingly it has a lot more in common with Jaws. Spielberg’s masterpiece was the first blockbuster and set the standard, rules and style all modern day monster movies have since followed with varying degrees of success

Director Jeong-won Shin does a good job heightening the tension and the fear, making sure not to show the slaughtering swine until mid-way. Using a pig’s-eye-view camera shot, the early attacks see people dragged off in all directions, limbs flying and body parts disappearing. Later, when revealed, the monster is realised in reasonably good CGI.

The story too follows the Jaws ark, and emphasises its ideas even more with the corrupt town officials, desperate to cover up the killings so as not to scare off the city folks and their money.
The animalistic behaviour of humans is explored through the warped morals of the characters, and the references to the destruction of the environment and wild life – which has ended up creating the huge people-eating porker.

Where Chaw differs from most other killer animal films is in its use of humour. Peppered with peculiar characters, moments of slap-stick and surreal social situations it is genuinely funny. Thankfully the comedy doesn’t detract from the horror but sits along side it, providing light relief and adding to the movies realism and overall originality.

Although it may not make you as scared to go in the woods, or to eat pork chops as Jaws made you scared of the water, it’s an entertaining, interesting and enjoyable film with some hilarious scenes and great gore.
A Korean take on the monster movie, like The Host before it, brings new life to a genre which in Hollywood’s hands has become stale and overdone.

Movie Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Chaw is released on DVD and Blu Ray on 1st March

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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