Chawz is Jawz, err, sorry, Jaws, or at least a Korean version of it. Yeah, it’s missing the water, the beach, the boat, and the shark, crucial points admittedly, but the structure is clearly in place. Someone is knocked-off by what would assuredly be the most overzealous piece of living bacon ever, the small town refuses to relent their farming duties, and disaster strikes. A smaller wild boar is killed and gutted, and a group of hunters decide to track down the real pork chop. There’s even a trained hunter in the group, if only to ensure the script lifting is complete and total.
The difference here? Chawz is a comedy, the “z” added to the US title apparently meant to emphasize this point. In case that’s still not clear, Chawz has monster pigz breaking up the townz looking for food…z.
So, with that out of the way, is Chawz funny? Sure. It’s amusing piece of creature feature, the kills frequent enough, and the running gag about a bumbling police force filled with dissension and the inability to balance on their own two feet generates some laughs. The horror is adequate, the barely acceptable CG jumbo boar rollicking through the fields, munching on commoners with no regard to personal safety. Then again, it doesn’t have to worry about much, bullets (or bulletz?) bouncing off the hide like missiles bounce off Godzilla.
Where does Chawz falter then? It’s too crowded, a meandering script that seems to mash everything together in search of comedy. There’s a meaningless kooky neighbor who abuses her kidz, apparently for a laugh, a mother who is equally off-kilter, and a rambling police chief who is obviously not fit for active duty. That’s all in addition to the main crew who will be scrounging together resources to tackle this inbred monstrosity, all for naught since it becomes a two-way team effort inside some abandoned mining facility. Focus matters.
The killer pig falls for it all of course, stumbling into traps for the sake of some action that breaks up the drawn out exposition. If Chawz didn’t gobble down some sustenance for as long as the character development takes, it wouldn’t survive. Who knows how many people are killed off screen to keep this thing going. Its a shame we can’t see more of it munching on the peoplez.
Chawz was captured digitally, no doubt some of its lesser qualities merely part of the source. The Sony HDW series is listed as the camera of choice, so those minor moments of video noise, vertical lines behind the image, and some ringing can slide. Importer Magnolia though, they have a history of obvious manipulation, and a lot of what is visible here is almost certainly their doing.
Maybe Chawz was incredibly noisy. There is that possibility, but to apply the level of noise reduction on display here is appalling. Faces are not just smooth, but made of some type of rubber that hasn’t quite been identified yet. Clothes show these qualities, looking like wax instead of leather or cotton. Farming fields are mud despite being populated with corn stalks and tall grass. Trees appear fake because the leaves look like plastic.
Think this hi-def visual searing is complete? Nah. The contrast is regularly a burden, seeming to enjoy its presence so much, it wants to ensure nothing else can escape its bright grip. Mercifully, the black levels are not quite as greedy and tend to keep a modicum of depth as part of the image. Softness proves dominate, and during an early restaurant conversation, posterization becomes unbearable.
Colors sit within a diluted haze, the palette mostly earthy tones with minor splashes of color. Flesh tones are fine up until the finale when that mining complex suddenly becomes Michael Bay-ized with splashes of orange and teal. That’s not exactly pleasing either, although it’s hard to blame Magnolia for that one.
Chawz has one great break-out audio moment, that of an assault on a boar-killing party. As the killer makes its approach, it scopes out the area, pushing in on creaky doors, walls, and windows. That crunching metal swings around to find a distinct presence in the rears, and when the piggie begins slamming on the front door uninvited, the bass takes over. Screams from panicked party goers are audible, as is the dialogue as one character begins an inner monologue about being a hero.
The low-end has a fairly prominent presence here (at times), steps from the overgrown breakfast proving powerful and beefy, assuming of course you can understand a pig sounding beefy. The irony sounds delicious. Sadly, this Korean DTS-HD mix (uncompressed dubbing is available too on equal terms except for dialogue) doesn’t always make sense, the finale providing an explosion worthy of Hollywood’s best boomers, and the subwoofer suddenly slinks away as if it were out having lunch. It only carries a presence when it wants to, and much can be said for the surrounds too. They don’t exactly welcome the thought of working overtime for clever scares or stalking-like effects.
A three-part making-of is the easy highlight here, an hours worth of extensive behind-the-scenes interviews and footage that feels far more honest and natural than most of the stuff we get here in the States. Six deleted scenes take up 10-minutes worth of your time if you watch them all, a snippet from a Q&A at the Korean premiere is included, along with a unique blooper reel from the poster shoot. That’s a first. Trailers and BD-Live access are left… z.