This feisty, unsentimental tale of enforced teen prostitution rides on an impressive central performance from Jamie Chung.
This sobering tale of a Korean-American teenager kidnapped from a bar and sold into sexual slavery appears to suggest that the most effective horror movies are perhaps those that actively try to not be horror movies.
Capturing the degradation and humiliation of a life abruptly repurposed by gun-toting crims, director Megan Griffiths proposes from the outset a gruelling ‘women behind bars’ movie in which a plucky inmate overcomes violent odds to foil her captors. This, thankfully, is not the movie you think it is. Yet that’s not to say it doesn’t attempt to generate a sense of revulsion in the viewer, it just does so with kid gloves.
The film, based on the real-life escapades of co-writer Chong Kim, orbits around a nicely modulated vengeful femme performance from Jamie Chung. Spirited away from her family and their hokey mom 'n' pop business, she is soon placed under the sickening auspices of Beau Bridges’ crooked and hyper-practical federal marshal, Bob Gault.
The set-up to Gault’s operation isn’t too different from a commercial farm, with the girls forced to live in steel pens with rooms for communal feeding and washing. When customers require servicing, the girls are marched out and lined up like cattle before being shackled and bundled into a van driven by volatile crack addict and ex-serviceman, Vaughn (Matt O’Leary).
Griffiths concentrates on the process of this nefarious business, and the human suffering is all the more intense for being implied rather than leered over. Formally, the no-frills photography at times gives the material a staid televisual feel. But props to Griffiths for proving that it only takes a very slight shift in tone and focus to give a gory old bike a set of shiny new wheels.
A woman is ushered in as human pin cushion. Again.
Bolstered by a pair of soulful central turns from Chung and Bridges.
A step-up from your regulation genre ordeal movie.