The Tatooist (2007, New Zealand/ Singapore)

I accidentally stumbled upon on a horror movie yet again. Jason Behr, who I have seen a few weeks ago in D-War, plays the protagonist of The Tatooist, who is famed for doing tattoos with healing powers. At the beginning of the movie it is ambiguous whether he actually believes in these powers or not, but he is interested in learning more. Thus he sneaks upon a traditional(-looking?) Indonesian ritual that he thinks does exactly that. He also steals one of the tools used in past ceremonies and herein the troubles start, because that instrument holds a cursed soul. From then on whoever our hero tattoos will eventually die a gruesome death, including the ink turning blood and expanding to cover the whole body at an accelerating speed. There is a girl involved, of course, who he wants to save as he fall in love with her at first sight. And one cannot avoid redemptive (and happy) ending in this kind of movies either.

Not being familiar with the actual belief system of the Indonesian people (or the particularly tribe depicted here) and how tattoos are part of their belief system I cannot really judge, whether the representation was anthropologically correct or not. But I could not shake off the feeling that it was not. Which, and the fact that I was watching a movie made for entertainment, led me to feel that one way or another they were used. Scriptwriters nowadays have to venture further out from the industrial societies to find topics that seem genuinely new for the viewers. Sometimes they reach areas I am not comfortable for them to incorporate, because I think it belittles, something that the people might hold sacred. But, as I have no idea whether this was the case here or not I should stop blaming this movie. They may not have done anything wrong, even looking with a strict eye, looking out for signs of ethnocentrism. But it sure felt like they did.


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