In Michael Wong’s bite-sized horror, tattoos are always painful.
I don’t often review films that can be watched, end credits and all, in less time than it takes for the kettle to boil. Mostly because not a lot of films exist that fit this criteria: after all it’s kind of difficult to fit your typical Hollywood hero monomyth into roughly 90 seconds. But damn I’d love to see it attempted.
Of course, Michael Wong’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it film The Tattooist doesn’t do that. In a lot of ways, it almost entirely avoids plot altogether, and to great effect. The story deals with the titular tattooist, a man with a very sinister secret life. At least, according to the official plot. What Wong does here is he is able to use the limited format of the runtime to his advantage and gives just enough information to form our own story. It’s kind of like reading a writing prompt in that way.
And in that timespan he’s able to put in some very atmospheric shots, emphasising mood and colour over anything else. The use of sharp neons undercut with pitch-black shadows makes The Tattooist a tiny taste of neo-noir comic book that really makes me want to see whether or not there’ll be a full-length follow up to this. The Tattooist is harrowing and intense in a way that films like Train of the Dead couldn’t achieve once in their 90 minutes.
Honestly I don’t want to write a review that will take longer to read than it did to watch the movie so I’ll stop. If you got a couple minutes to spare – and don’t lie I know you do – it’s worth checking out.
Verdict: Visually striking, The Tattooist doesn’t have much to say or much time to say it in, but does so with buckets of style.
Overall entertainment: 8/10
Tattoos: One, but it’s nice
Dancing: Top notch dance moves at the end
The movie’s IMDb: Has so much trivia guys, and some of it is pure gold.
The Tattooist (2018)
Director: Michael Wong
Writer: Michael Wong
Yanhu Wang – The Tattooist
Li Lu – Platinum