Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Paul Hellin, 20 mins, Finland
It was obvious to me that this film was the one to write about when at its end, the audience was too confused and disgusted to applaud for a good 15 seconds. The film does a remarkable job of creating tension at an excruciatingly slow pace - tension that is supported by eerie murmuring background music, close up reaction shots, dark cinematography, slow movements in camera, and terse, ominous bits of dialogue that complicate rather than clarify.
The film begins when a young girl enters a tattoo shop late at night to find a very ornery, quietly smoking tattoo artist who is in turn suspicious, mean, taciturn, and mysterious. He agrees to tattoo the girl all across her back, and gives her a shot to help ease the pain. The shot eventually makes the girl fall asleep, and when she wakes up, she finds she's gotten something very different than what she asked for.
Though the premise of the film is relatively simple, the slow pace really lends the film a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat quality. A noticeable total silence descended over the crowd during the scene when the girl starts getting tattooed, and lasted for nearly ten tension-wracked minutes. It's impossible to determine if the tattoo artist is merely grumpy or dangerous.