After bringing us both BLACK SHEEP and THE FERRYMAN at last year’s AFM, I was pretty excited for New Zealand Films’ THE TATTOOIST, which was recently acquired by Ghost House Pictures. All the signs pointed to good movie, except for the boring stills and terrible teaser art. I should have paid more attention to the promotional items because welcome to their first stinker, a great idea weekend by a poor screenplay.
TATTOOIST casts Jason Behr as a tattoo artist who becomes fascinated by the Samoan tatau tradition, but his desire to learn the ancient skill brings him into conflict and danger with the island mysticism and a deadly spirit is released as a result.
In a nutshell the film played like a made for TV movie. It took way too long for anything exciting to happen and when it finally does it can’t keep a pace and the twists of the film were so obvious it was laughable; overall it reminded me of previous disasters like RITUAL. What I wanted to see was THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW but instead got a half-assed murder mystery that wouldn’t even that interesting on TV.
Jason Behr is unbearable and most of the characters are forgettable or aren’t even likeable. The acting is atrocious at times and the production value felt a little weak. There was a heavy lack of gore and one of the only really cool things in the film was the tattoo monster, which was a ghost covered in black ink.
The movie was your typical ghost movie disguised as something fresh and original. There was absolutely nothing new here except that tattoos were involved. The screenplay lacked in pacing and had me sighing at numerous occasions – was anything going to happen? What’s with all of these movies that are loaded with heavy exposition and no action? Bring on the pain! It didn’t help that half of the kills were freaking off screen! To make matters worse every character just happens to be in the right place at the right time and easily accessible. Behr’s character has no problem tracking anyone down and navigated through this town like he’s lived there for years and knows everyone in town. And to put the icing on the cake there’s a seen where Behr goes to some kid he met on the street that claims to see the ghost following him. After bribing the kid and his gangbang cousins they get in their pimp ride and start driving away, as they drive the kid screams “faster, louder, fast louder” until the ghost possesses him. This hilariously out of place (and terrible) sequence is used as a device to explain to our lead what the hell is going on. I wanted to walk out at this point, but then I couldn’t review it.
It really sucks because under it all TATTOOIST could have been something fresh and original but instead mimicked a bunch of terrible films before it. It only makes one wonder if the people involved in the film ever watched a horror movie? Hopefully Ghost House has some ideas for remaking this useless derivative dumper.