Review: CHAW (2009)

WARNING: Major Spoilers Ahead.

What happens when you mix baby pigs, a small town, talking dogs, a cop with a pregnant wife, a mentally handicapped mother, a crazy woman, and a hunter hung up on a hook in a Saw-esque barn about to be cut up because the same aforementioned woman wants him to call her mommy? You get the newest monster film out of Korea: Chaw. But how does Chaw fair? Well, thanks to my friend Keith, I got a copy (complete with making of, deleted scenes, ect.) and I saw the film.

ALTERNATE OPENING: If I had to compare Korean monster films to other monster films, here is how it would go: Gwoemul would be Gojira, D-War would be Gamera, Yonggary (both) would be Guilala, and last but not least Chaw would be Jaws. The film is a thrill ride that sometimes uses old monster film "jump scene" tricks and puts then into new use and much more.

Unlike it’s predecessors, CHAW takes place in South Korea’s beautiful country side. The colors are nice and strong for all of the sets. This is the biggest stand out with the film. And many of the forested areas are of a creepy air - forests, an orange orchard, and other plant places with dense vegetation. Some of this plays on one of the reasons why "Children of the Corn" had at least a little bit of eeriness: a dense field of organized plants is creepy. But the forest scenery is also creepy. The hunter’s expertise in finding stuff makes it interesting and the boar’s roar is something which makes your heart feel a little disturbed. It also serves as a not-so-well-told underlying message in the film: the problems with cross breeding. More on that when you actually see the film.

Like it’s Japanese genre counterparts, Chaw takes the rout of being comedic mixed with horror. Much like the film "Gwoemul", the film does keep a current feeling of dread and terror through out the film. Such gimmicks such as the usual shot of someone walking and then all of a sudden getting hit by something are used to good effect with this film. The comedy does work though in most cases, such as when they were filming the examination of the boar’s fecal matter and hair. But there are times which it is unneeded. Sure, the actors deliver solid performances but it is sometimes not the performance that is flawed, but what they have to do. This brings me to some complaints.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some moments of brutality, especially if you are an animal lover like me. Though it makes me a paradox though since I live in Georgia - a state which part of it’s economic gain is it’s hunting appeal due to the vast forests we have in this state. The first two and a half minutes of the film is actually hunting footage. Deer, boar, and other beasts are shown being killed. Brutality is also sprinkled through out the film, like the scene when the boar’s children are killed. They use pig noises for the squals and stuff and well, just keep in mind that you need to do what you need to do to. That thought is going to keep those more animal inclined through the film.

Other than the times of unnecessary comedy, a thing I have beef with is an unexplored plot device. I haven’t seen the deleted scenes, but there could have been a sub plot in which the only cast member under 14 could have been shown to have had ties with the boar (evidently, the boy’s guardian knows that he is feeding the boar human food!) Another gripe I have is not so much with the film as much as the people who have reviewed this film. Many say that the CGI is bad. While higher than SciFi Channel standards, the CGI is not the best. But it is good enough. Why grade the CGI so badly? There isn’t even that much of it in it. In my opinion, if CGI was such a problem, they should have had Younggu-Art do the touch ups. For what CGI there is in the film, I feel it gets the job done.

While not a terribly great film, the film is a good film and again makes the monster part of Korean cinema look good. It is better than what SciFi Channel produced and critically better than D-WAR (not personally though). When the film gets distribution in the states, I hope a lot of you take it upon yourselves to watch the film. It is sure to be a fun thrill ride.
Rating: 3.5/5

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