The trailer for Meat Grinder really drew me in – so completely different to the ‘tell you everything’ approach of US horror film trailers (or just many Hollywood films in general). It seemed almost abstract, disconcerting, affective and hinted at lots of highly physicalised violence.
As such, it gives a fairly accurate impression of the experience of watching the film, which is nothing if not disconcerting, shocking, at times deeply repulsive, but also quite gripping.
I won’t go into details of the narrative, partly because after only one viewing I have to admit to not being entirely sure what was happening. The short version is that is elliptical, puzzling, very violent and definitely not for the squeamish. Meat Grinder seems to be determined to keep you on the wrong foot, turn you around and generally assault the viewer on all angles: visually, aurally and narratively.
The film changes between black and white and colour, which might seem to suggest temporal shifts, but as the film goes on this doesn’t seem to be the case, which certainly doesn’t help any sense of orientation.
The primary goal of many of the decisions around style – which also shifts rapidly between format, film stock, rhythm and register – seem to be to disorientate and profoundly affect the viewer, drawing them in to the traumas experienced by the characters.
This is definitely the kind of film that requires more than one viewing (if you can stomach it). It is a good looking film, with evident production values, a certain elegance in its evocation of a highly damaged personality (the central female character) and strong performances.
It is also extremely effective in offering an unsettling watching experience, which draws on the rapid temporal shifts but also changes in texture and moments that draw attention to the feel of events in the past or the feelings induced by the emotional states of the characters. I was particularly struck by the shifts in rhythm, the changes in texture and colour that occur within sequences.
Also the way that the violence is presented is deeply unsettling, repulsive and distressing – I spent a lot of the film flinching, squirming and crying out in disgust at the onscreen events – it is not at all slick, nor does it attempt to involve the viewer or make them collude in it through humour or energetic presentation.
This is my first brush with Thai horror, and on the strength of this I would definitely be intrigued to see more.