The Tattooist Movie Review

Written by Greg Fisher

Released by A Scream Apart Productions

Written and Directed by Michael Wong
2018, 1 minute, Not Rated

Yanhu Wang as The Tattooist
Li Lu as Platinum
Myra Mala as Screaming Girl
Chase Lichtenberg as Guy in Iron Maiden
Simon Shiyamba as Guy in Shackles
Mayela Magrou as Tied up Girl
Dan Litza as Guy behind Bars

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Aspiring filmmakers can do much for their career by making a short film.  Many have used these as a calling card, showing a tight, concise narrative showcasing what they are capable of as storytellers.  Others can use this as a way to get an idea out, something they can revisit in a longer form in the future.  The short, especially in horror, has been very effective in recent years to give impactful scares and instill visuals that last much longer than their miniscule runtime.  Writer/ director Michael Wong strikes out on all of these, and the viewer is left with little more than they had going into the viewing of his one-minute-long The Tattooist.

There is little cohesion, narrative, or sense to the story he tells.  In the scant one minute, we see the titular character tattooing the back of a woman in a bob cut platinum wig.  The viewer is then assaulted with quick cuts of the artist cutting, smashing, hammering, shackling, tormenting, and generally torturing carious men and women in what appears to be a run-down prison or dungeon.  Wong uses overlaid filters of red, purple and yellow tints to the shots for ambiance, alternatively muting and highlighting the blood that coats every scene.  We are left with the shock(?) that the platinum blonde on the table was a corpse, newly tattooed with a beautiful full back portrait of a stylized purple woman's face.  The camera pans out as the tattooist does a jaunty little dance next to the body and the viewer questions their internet viewing habits. 

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There is no real script to detail.  Most victims scream and cry.  The one or two actors that do say words have them drowned out with the jarring score that knocks off the iconic notes and sounds of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.  While the soundtrack is well-made, it is misused, which can be said of the whole endeavor.

The one thing I can applaud the short for, even though it flies in the face of what the story seems to emulate, is that Wong does a winking service of hiding what would be truly deplorable from a film in this vein.  As the tattooist carves up the midsection of a female victim, the scene is shot from above, with an overhead florescent light blocking the gore.  When he goes to strike a female victim with a large hammer as she is bound to a chair, the camera cuts to the next scene right before impact.  Any true gore, which would push this into the real of a certifiable hard torture porn piece, is left implied.  Wong also makes a notable decision to stay away from any shock shots of nudity for nudity's sake, which many may have done simply for negligible effect.

To Michael Wong, I can simply say, if you have something to say, say it.  If not, let it simmer until you have something more for the viewer.  I hope to see what Mr. Wong does next, because I expect more.  He has a keen eye for shots, and as a fan of the genre, I can say that can make up for mistakes.  Hopefully the next idea is better fleshed out, and the story something that needs to be told. 

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Movie: onestar Cover

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