The Pang Brothers scored a big and early hit in their career with The Eye which saw an American remake hit (and split from) U.S. screens last month. They also missed the mark altogether with their America debut, the Sam Raimi produced The Messengers. Abnormal Beauty falls somewhere in between.
A young (high school maybe?) art student becomes disinterested in the art she is learning about and producing. She happens to witness to a car accident where a pedestrian is killed and is inspired to take some photos. Back in her photo lab, she begins to see "abnormal beauty" in the death she captured on film and begins to actively seek out more carnage for her art. This starts with her paying the local butcher to allow her to film him slaughtering chickens (a mean little scene that I could have done without since I think the chickens are actually killed) but eventually escalates to her taking road kill home to photograph. From here she begins staging and photographing death scenes to the dismay of her cousin who she may or may not be having a lesbian affair with.
Which brings up an interesting sub-plot. Early on we are lead to believe that she was gang raped by three male cousins of hers when she was a little girl, the effects of which have turned her into a lesbian. Not totally outside of the pale I guess, but, were I a lesbian, I think I would be able to find something offensive about that. Having known several very nice, very well adjusted lesbians, I feel confident in stating that it doesn't take gang rape to turn one into a lesbian - sometimes it's just the way things are. Anyway, enough soapboxing....
Abnormal Beauty is, frankly, pretty fuckin' boring for the first 3/4s of the film. The subtitles appear to have been poorly done, or else the dialogue and story are just a tad confusing. The pace is slow and not a lot happens. There is an obvious effort to "westernize" the whole thing with it's slow-jammy soundtrack and music montage film editing. Isn't there enough of that coming from Hollywood already?
Where the film really feels like an Eastern import is in the final quarter where things take a sudden turn for the very bad and no punches are pulled. It gets mean and it gets icky. Had the first 3/4 of this been as intense I'd be raving about this. But it wasn't and I'm not.