A group of teens plan on spending the weekend camping in the mountains near a relatively unknown village. Their fun-filled weekend getaway turns into a living hell as some of the locals plan to have some fun with these unwelcomed outsiders.
When it comes to movies that feature rednecks, hicks, and backwood-country-bumpkins; people rarely think of Asian movies. Granted they aren't a commonly used demographic when it comes to antagonists for a movie. So it was interesting to come across "Shan Kou" or as I'll refer to it as "The Beasts", which was being labeled as the Hong Kong version of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "The Hills Have Eyes" which it really doesn't share any real similarities to. If I had to compare it to anything, I'd say it's more along the lines of "Last House on the Left" or "I Spit on Your Grave" even though, it only shares a slight resemblance to those movies.
Once again, there isn't much to the plot that we haven't seen about a dozen times or so with foolish teens camping in the woods and are then terrorized by the locals because they don't care for outsiders. One of the girls ends up getting isolated from her brother and friends, and the five redneck characters end up raping the girl. Her brother goes after the men for revenge and as a result ends up getting killed himself. With the daughter being institutionalized because she goes insane from being raped, and none of the locals want to punish their own, the father of the two kids decides to take matters into his own hands and get revenge.
Like I said, nothing we haven't seen before. As sick as it may sound, I really decided to watch this after I had read that the rape scene was rather harsh and sickening. After all these years, I should really know better when I read something like that. In terms of acting, the scene was done well enough in that department but the scene loses any impact it could have had, due to both the editing and the fact that it seems like the people behind the camera were afraid of being too graphic with the content. With the editing, they never really held any one shot for more than a few seconds and then would cut to what the other teens were doing while the girl is being raped, or cut to various close-ups of the rednecks or the girl. With some viewers, just the idea of someone being gang-raped is enough to get a response out of them, but when you've seen so many exploitation movies with similar content, then you watch one where they won't focus and won't even show the act, it will not have the same impact. Especially when the scene is bombarded with smash-cuts and shows something that is completely irrelevant will take the viewer out of the moment.
The rape sequence isn't the only one that suffers from bad editing and not being as graphic as you would you think. When the son is killed and when the father takes revenge on each individual man, the scenes are hacked up in editing or you only get to see a small glimpse of what is occurring. Which is rather disappointing since it features some interesting death scenes, one of the rednecks being attacked with a hacksaw blade, another being dropped head first into a box that is lined with nails. This is one of those instances where the old saying "less is more" or the belief that it's what you don't see that is more powerful than what you do, does not work. Not even looking at the butchered scenes of rape and violence, the movie overall suffers from bad editing. Unimportant scenes are drawn out and take up too much of the running time, and ones that have significance to the story or the characters are rushed through. There are also moments where scenes just flat out don't make any sense. Such as, the father abandoning his camp when the surviving rednecks come across it, then it cuts to the father praying in the woods, and just as quickly, the rednecks show up and they all start fighting.
Besides the bad editing, the movie features an abundant amount of an unnecessary comedic element. I'm not sure why comedy was included in the movie since Craven showed us with "Last House on the Left"; it never works in favor with movies like these. Most of the comedy comes from the redneck character named Moe, who is suppose to be dumb and slightly on the retarded side, and happens to consider the scum bags he hangs out with as his friends. Since the character is suppose to be extremely dumb, he is often falling down, has a silly run, and in general doing or reacting in a nonsensical fashion in attempt to get a laugh out of the audience. Most of the comedy happens in the first half of the movie, while the second half has the violence; it's obvious that it was initially added to make the "graphic" portions of the movie have more of an impact. When it had the opposite effect, by making what could have been harsh viewing experience into just another failed cheesy exploitation movie.
While "The Beasts" is redundant, it has an erratic pace due to bad editing, often illogical, is more comical than shocking (not in a good way), and is probably one of the tamest Category 3 movies that I've seen. It's not completely unwatchable though. Granted, this is something I'll never recommend to anybody, but I think people who are just looking for a cheap-trashy exploitation flick might find some enjoyment out of this, or just find it as a decent enough time waster.