Morbidly fascinating before sinking into grotesquerie of the most confrontational kind, “Exhausted” charts the supremely depressing relationship of a pimp and a prostitute in a bleak industrial nowhere. Notionally an essay on male-female power struggles, this artsploitation entry from South Korean underground figure Kim Gok challenges auds to stay the distance with some of the most repulsive imagery in recent memory. World preemed at Pusan to a high walkout rate, pic is unreleasable in most markets but could enjoy some sort of life as a fest shock item.
Shot in ultra-grainy 8mm, the story, such as it is, begins with a disturbed young woman (Jang Liu) installed in a squalid apartment by a skuzzy pimp (Park Jih-wan) who likes to watch bestiality videos. Repetitive first hour, showing a procession of weirdo clients and the pimp meting out psychological abuse, is mild in light of what happens when a dumpy girl (Oh Keun-young) shows up with a pair of scissors. Would-be symbolic frenzy of scarification, genital mutilation and, finally, a miscarriage is sickening in the extreme. Nasty tone is relentlessly enforced by a pro technical package.