The Tattooist

The Tattooist
The Tattooist.2007.hd.1080p
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Evil in ink.
The Tattooist Poster
5.1/10 by 17 users
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American tattoo artist Jake Sawyer wanders the world, exploring and exploiting ethnic themes in his tattoo designs. At a tattoo expo in Singapore, he gets his first glimpse at the exotic world of traditional Samoan tattoo (tatau), and, in a thoughtless act, unwittingly unleashes a powerful angry spirit. In his devastating journey into Pacific mysticism, Jake must find a way to save his new love, Sina and recover his own soul.

Title:The Tattooist
Release Date:November 28, 2007
MPAA Rating:R
Genres:Foreign, Horror, Thriller
Production Co.:Eyeworks Touchdown
Production Countries:New Zealand, Singapore
Director:Peter Burger
Casts:, , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:new zealand, evil spirit, mysticism, ghost, tattooing, tattoo artist, singapore, mark, samoa, tattoo shop
Alternative Titles:
  • Tattooist - Das Böse geht unter die Haut - [DE]
  • El Tatuador - [SV]
  • El tatuador - [ES]

The Tattooist Reviews

  • Thoughtful horror that moves at a measured pace
    by Rabh17 on 8 August 2008

    32 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

    I am guessing that a lot of the low ratings have more to do with the fact that this movie does not immediately start splattering the audience with buckets of blood and splitting your ears with crescendoing screams.

    This movie is NOT following the normal Hollywood script. There's no "Oh yeah-there's the Monster" There's no parade of "Oh Yeah, the A-hole is gonna get it"

    This is Horror from the Suspense side of the formula. It's a story of a Guy who does something wrong in the pursuit of his art. And something is unleashed in return. Consequences and collisions occur in the context of a different continent and its own cultures and messy histories.

    No, it's not a DEEP movie, but it's an interesting departure from the usual fare. Nor is it a non-stop splatterfest.

    Watch this when you're in the right mood-- somewhere in the middle where you just want a good movie to fill the time and give you a story from a different place besides Hollywood.

  • A Nutshell Review: The Tattooist
    by DICK STEEL on 24 November 2007

    43 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

    "He needs a doctor." "No, he needs a tattoo!"

    And with that comes the chuckles when the latter line is uttered by Singaporean actor Gerald Chew. The Tattooist is the second New Zealand horror movie to hit our screens here this year (the other being The Ferryman), and this one marks the first Singapore-New Zealand joint venture, with others like Kelvin Tong's Maid sequel being rumoured to be some collaborative effort of this nature as well.

    Starring Jason Behr, who resembled Lorenzo Lamas in his previous big screen movie outing with the SkinWalkers, he ditches the long hair and beard for a closer crop, and takes on the titular role as a tattooist who is in Singapore for a Tattoo Exposition, held at the Capitol area. Locals will know that no such area exists (Capitol is just waiting to be refurbished/demolished), and the first 20 minutes of this movie actually had a very sexy vibe to how night time Singapore is portrayed, with its beautiful skyline, and many shots that would have made the Singapore Tourism Board give it its stamp of approval.

    Some believe that tattoos give its wearer some mystical properties, as explained in movies like Spider Lilies, and perhaps that's why more than often the creatures drawn on people include fierce ones like tigers and mythical ones like phoenixes and dragons. Rarely, or never at all, do you see a pussy cat, or a rat (if you do, let me know!). Behr's Jake Sawyer earns a living giving tattoos that he hawks as tattoos that can "heal", although being a disbeliever of such prowess, and at the Expo, gets his interest piqued by the Samoan tradition of the art.

    OK, so actually he's more interested in Sina (Mia Blake), whom he saw at the Expo, and prior to his journey to New Zealand to learn more of Tatau, he had "borrowed" an old tattoo tool, which to the audience, spells trouble - such stuff can only contain curses, spirits and what- have-yous. And when blessed accidentally with fresh blood from Sawyer's palm, it seems that Sawyer's customers thereafter become victims of strange deaths, spewing tattoo ink and experiencing death by tattoo art. Nonetheless it's up to Sawyer to find out the root cause in a race against time, especially when his lady love is also put at risk.

    To add some depth and contribute to the reasons necessary for things that go bump, the theme of shame is examined in the rituals of the Samoan people, which is similar to the value of "face" to the Chinese. Things that bring dishonor to the family is widely frowned upon, and this discrimination brings about unhealthy relationships, especially amongst blood relations. Ultimately, it boils down to interpretation, and the selfishness of man to preserve what is deemed socially acceptable, and the measures taken to preserve mindsets and individual honor.

    Director Peter Burger doesn't deliver an outright horror movie, but it seemed more along the lines of a mystery thriller. You don't get the usual tricks like shadowy figures, creaky doors, sudden slamming of furniture, bellowing winds or musical crescendos. In fact, you don't get much of that at all, only the occasional figure seen in a reflective surface, and even then done so low key, it surprisingly doesn't even raise a goose-bump. The way the narrative played out was in the vein of horror movies like Shutter, but without the unexpectedly frightening bits. It was as if the movie was in self-censorship mode, reeling back from full gory details, choosing to let the mind imagine what horrible fates have befallen the unfortunate victims.

    And speaking of censorship, I booed at the badly butchered removal of a sex scene. Instead of bowing to box office pressure of an NC16 release, I thought the distributors could have submitted it for a higher rating, thus keeping the movie intact for its inaugural Sin-NZ production, but sorry. The movie boasted excellent production values, so it was a pity to have the experience marred by a bad cut. There were some off-moments in the movie, like the kid-medium and his homies, but taken as a whole, The Tattooist is a surprisingly entertaining mystery thriller that will probably pave the way for more quality (hopefully) collaborations to come.

  • You have found the next movie to rent
    by bjt55 on 31 July 2008

    18 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

    If you are like me, you use this site to Gage what to rent. I am shocked this movie got such a low rating (5.1 stars when I checked), in fact I almost didn't rent it because of that, I only picked this up because fangoria gave it a great review. My best advice is to watch the preview, and if you think it looks good then watch it. The preview is not misleading at all, and the movie has much more to offer. I was happily impressed with this movie. The Acting was great, the scenes were visually enticing, and even brought you into a different culture. The idea was truly refreshing and also pulled off very well. I have seen plenty of movies with great ideas, but it was too hard to pull off, which ruiend the movie. This however, was not one of them.

    Now with this review you are probably wondering why I didn't give more than 10 stars. That is because the first 45 minutes were slow, and at the time almost seemed irrelevant. Turns out (of course) they are not all irrelevant. There were just some funny things I noticed, like a guy comes into his shop and he just starts tattooing the guy without asking what he wanted. Overall this movie was great and I strongly recommend it to any true horror fan (that means if you like movies such as "The Titanic" and dislike horror films, don't rent this to give it a bad rating.) This movie will not have you at the edge of your seat, or give you nightmares, or make you jump, but it will make you realize that they still make great creative horror movies that are truly a treat to watch

  • Weird Horror Movie
    by Claudio Carvalho on 10 August 2009

    9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

    The American tattooist Jake Sawyer (Jason Behr) travels around the world researching tattoos and tattooing clients. While in Singapore, he steals a tool that belongs to the Samoan family of his acquaintance Sina (Mia Blake); however he has a problem with a client that expected that his tattoo could heal his sick son and Jake accidentally cuts his palm with the tool. Jake returns to New Zealand where he meets Sina again and has a cold reception from her family that knows that he has stolen their tool. They visit a Samoan family that has been living in shame since their missing son did not finish a traditional ritual with the tattoos. Sooner Jake finds that his recent clients are chased by a fiend that is somehow connected to the Samoan tool, and he discloses a dark secret in the Samoan community.

    "The Tattooist" is a weird horror movie for those like me that are not used to the Samoan rituals and traditions, more specifically to the Traditional Samoan tattooing of the pe'a, body tattoo. I have found many articles about this subject in Google (for example, that helped me to understand the plot. Therefore, in my opinion, this movie fails for not providing a better clarification of the Samoan tattoo history. If the viewer clearly understands this matter, the horror makes sense and "The Tattooist" is an original movie of this genre. My vote is six.

    Title (Brazil): "O Tatuador" ("The Tattoist")

  • Awful attempt at a supernatural horror murder mystery.
    by Paul Andrews ( on 13 February 2010

    4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

    The Tattooist starts in Singapore where American tattooist Jake Sawyer (Jason Behr) is attending a tattoo festival, while there he sees an attractive woman named Sina (Mia Blake) & he follows to a traditional Samaon tattooing session. Jake is intrigued & steals a Samoan tattooing tool on which he cuts his hand later that night, Jake decides to fly to Aukland in New Zealand to find Sina & return the tool he stole but starts to experience strange dreams & visions. One of Jake's old friends gives him a job as a tattooist in his place, Jake manages to find Sina & they start having a relationship together. However the dreams & visions won't go away & Jake discovers that those he has tattooed are dying is mysteriously circumstances & strangely their tattoos have grown, Jake finally comes to the conclusion that an evil Samoan spirit is using him to kill those Jake has tattooed & since Jake tattooed the love of his life Sina she will be next unless the evil spirit can be stopped...

    This New Zealand Singapore co-production was directed by Peter Burger & I thought The Tattooist was a terrible attempt at a supernatural horror thriller, I thought The Tattooist was just plain bad from start to finish on so many levels. For a start it's very slow going, almost half the film has gone before anything even remotely horror orientated happens & the story just doesn't work for me at all. There's a Asian ghost story kind of feel about it as some vengeful ghost kills a few people & wants the world to know about the wrongs done to them while they were alive & the whole tattooing angle is just awful. The scenes between that fat Samoan tattoo master & Jake the cocky American are just embarrassing as it comes across as two duelling tattooist's trying to out-stare each other, it seems some like this film but I just found the seriousness of it all had the opposite effect on me & I thought it was quite funny at times. Then there's that little fat kid who can contact ghost's while driving along listening to a bad rap song, there are some bad moments here. There's also the moments when Jake tattoos people, they just sit down in his chair & the goes to work, they never say what they want or where they want it & then these people just get up & walk out without paying, I'm not being funny but if I was having a tattoo (which would be for life) then I'd at least want to pick the design & where it was going. Also during the opening sequence Jake's father cuts a tattoo from his arm, at that point surely Jake wasn't eighteen & he wouldn't have been legally allowed to get a tattoo so how did he have one? The romance between Jake & Sina feels as phony as a three pound note, the whole Samoan tradition's & belief's angle is dull & the twist ending is pretty bad as a collection of coincidences come together to solve a murder mystery of the lamest order.

    Now what I am about to write is only a personal opinion but I find excessive tattoos on a body absolutely repulsive, I don't care who i offend saying that but I do & I cannot understand why anyone would want horrible ugly pictures or patterns permanently etched onto their skin. I have nothing against anyone with lots of tattoos but I just think it looks repulsive & the way The Tattooist tries to place tattoos as a sexual thing (Jake tattoos Sina just before they have sex) & tries to sexualise them is something I could not relate to at all in any way. There's no real blood or gore here, a strip of flesh is cut from someones arm & there's a bit of blood splatter but nothing else. The Tattooist doesn't feel like a horror film either, the lighting is bright & there's no mood or atmosphere to any of this as it plods along.

    The IMDb says The Tattooist had a budget of about $3,000,000 which I find hard to believe as next to nothing happens, where did all that money go? What was it spent on? Mostly filmed in Auckland in New Zealand. The acting is average at best & no-one stands out as being particularly good.

    The Tattooist is a terrible horror thriller with a hint of Asian ghost story thrown in that revolves around the world of tattooing, it's a bad combination all round really as this is just terrible apart from a few unintentional laughs.

  • Outstanding, particularly for fans of Polynesia
    by TheTaoofNetflix on 31 July 2009

    4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

    This was an interesting movie. An American tattoo artist finds himself a bit too intrigued by the Somoan art of tattooing, and along the way finds himself, and his tattooed customers, the grim focus of a spiteful spirit, all stemming from his ill-advised "borrowing" of a tainted Samoan tattoo tool. I highly enjoyed this movie, but must caveat that I'm completely enthralled by all things Polynesia, so I am probably very forgiving of any negative elements of the movie. Polynesia notwithstanding, the story was creative, and certainly a break from normal American horror fare. Good (enough) acting, strong production values and interesting scenery make this a highly recommended film.

  • Mildly interesting tattoo horror.
    by HumanoidOfFlesh on 5 March 2009

    4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

    "The Tattooist" tells the story of an American tattoo artist Jake Sawyer,who is a global wanderer who explores ethnic themes in his designs.While he is in New Zealand he unknowingly plays a role in releasing a deadly spirit with a penchant for delivering death by indelible ink as he attempts to learn tatau,the Samoan tradition of tattooing.Tatau is a traditional tattoo worn by males,on the middle of their torsos,starting just below the lat area and continues down to the knees."The Tattooist" has some impressive moments of horror among many boring spots,where literally nothing happens.The film's subject is unusual as is the cultural context and the death scenes are suitably graphic.Unfortunately the character of Jake is barely developed and the first half of the film is pretty dull.6 out of 10.

  • An Odd Movie
    by Uriah43 on 31 October 2012

    1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

    This is an odd movie about a tattoo artist named "Jake Sawyer" (played by Jason Behr) who gets involved in the Samoan mystical realm of tattoos. He steals a Samoan tattoo instrument at a tattoo convention in Singapore. But when he accidentally cuts himself with it he begins to have hallucinations and nightmares. He then wonders if these dreams and visions are connected to the tattoo device that he stole and begins to consider whether he should give it back. Unfortunately, not long afterward his customers begin to die one by one in a grisly manner. When one particular customer named "Victoria" (Caroline Cheong) visits his apartment and shows what is happening to her, he begins to realize that something is terribly wrong but he doesn't fully comprehend what it is yet. However, as she lies dying in the emergency room he glimpses the evil spirit that he has unleashed and realizes that it is connected to the tattoos he has drawn. Determined not to let the same horrible thing happen to his new girlfriend, "Sina" (Mia Blake) he desperately searches for a solution. After that this film begins to get a little uneven. While the world of a tattoo artist might be peculiar, it's difficult to get enthused about it. It's even more difficult to get interested in weird ancient Samoan tribal rituals. And while the acting was adequate, I thought the plot was just too phony and unconvincing. It almost seemed like they were making up the story as they went along. In summation, this film may be worth a look if you're really curious about it. But it's not something that I would put on the top of my list to see.

  • Quite a good horror movie...
    by MovieGuy01 on 14 October 2009

    3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

    I thought that the Tattooist was quite a good horror movie. It was about an American tattoo artist called Jake Sawyer, who travels the world, exploring different ethnic themes in his tattoo designs. At a tattoo expert in Singapore, he gets his first glimpse at the exotic world of traditional Samoan tattoo (tatau), and, in a thoughtless act, unwittingly unleashes a powerful angry spirit. In his journey into Pacific mysticism, Jake must find a way to save his new love, Sina and recover his own soul. This ended up being a good horror film and i would strongly recommended it to viewers. And it also gave a good look into how Samoan tattoos are made.

  • My Review
    by joemamaohio on 28 October 2008

    3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

    Professional tattooist Jake Sawyer (Jason Behr) travels all over the world and performs tattoos on people, believing it has healing powers. In Singapore he takes an ancient Samoan tattooing device and falls for Sina (Mia Blake). After he takes the ink and the tool, bad things begin to happen, and he's being haunted by an evil presence that kills people he tattoos with the ink. Can he figure out how to stop it before his new love dies? Sure, it's not a typical blood-and-guts horror film, but it wasn't that bad. They took the time to give a real character with real emotions and feelings, and overall it wasn't that bad of a film. I would recommend a viewing.

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