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When tattoo artist Jake Sawyer (Jason Behr) attends a tattoo expo in Singapore, he becomes intrigued by Pacific mysticism and tattooing culture. He meets Sina (Mia Blake), cousin to Samoan tattooist Alipati (Robbie Magasiva) and a cross-cultural romance begins. Strange things start happening after Jake, on a whim, steals an ancient Samoan tattooing tool which releases a destructive spirit.

Review by Louise Keller:
An eerie tale against a backdrop of Samoan tattooing superstition, The Tattooist opens our eyes to a different kind of ghost story. Tradition, culture and mystique all blend together in this story about young tattoo artist Jake, compellingly played by Jason Behr, who inadvertently makes way for an evil spirit to infiltrate his life. It seems that anyone he tattoos becomes cursed and dies an inky and horrible death. But he doesn't discover this until he has newly tattooed the lovely Sina (Mia Blake), with whom he is having an affair.

We learn that it is the belief of the Samoan people that the art of tattooing is a gift from the gods and that if misused, shame falls. And shame is worse than death. With a script by the writers of the New Zealand schlock horror flick, Black Sheep, Matthew Grainger and Jonathan King, the film is original and striking enough to grip us immediately. Some of the images of abdomen piercing are pretty tough to take and the scenes in which Jake's most recent tattoo clients suffer an extraordinarily messy exorcism of sorts are definitely not for the faint hearted. I do, however, like the way we are sucked into the world of tattooing; we become mesmerized by the notions and beliefs.

There's a nice chemistry between Jake and Sina and when he gives her a tattoo, it is with tenderness before passion kicks in. The story becomes creepy as the ink begins to seep uncontrollably and Jake believes the solution is to find a man wearing a necklace of whale bones. This is the directing debut of New Zealand director Peter Burger, who keeps the tension tight, never letting up until all the ends have been tied up. Whether or not the film pleads a case for body inking is another story, but this, after all, is only fiction.

There's a behind the scenes featurette on the DVD.

Published June 26, 2008

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(NZ/Singapore, 2008)

CAST: Jason Behr, Mia Blake, David Fane, Robbie Magasiva, Caroline Cheong, Michael Hurst, Nathaniel Lees

PRODUCER: Julie Christie, Kames Dean, Daniel Yun, Robin Scholes

DIRECTOR: Peter Burger

SCRIPT: Matthew Grainger, Jonathan King


EDITOR: Paul Maxwell

MUSIC: Peter Scholes


RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the scenes featurette


DVD RELEASE: June 4, 2008

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