STUDIO: Tartan Video
MSRP: $24.99
RUNNING TIME: 92 Minutes
• Interview with director Takashi Shimizu
• Interview with actor Shinya Tsukamoto
• Interview with producer Hiroshi Takahashi
• Original Theatrical Trailer

The Pitch

You’d think finding a young naked girl who doesn’t mind bondage, never argues with you, and loves drinking blood would be a good thing. You’d think…

Turns out the Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi sex video wasn’t what you’d exactly call run-of-the-mill…

The Humans

Shinya Tsukamoto, Tomomi Miyashita, Kazuhiro Nakahara, Miho Ninagawa, Shun Sugata.

The Nutshell

Trippy story about Japanese cameraman, Masuoka (Tsukamoto), who was on the scene when a terrified old man, Furoki (Nakahara), gives himself an eye exam with a bowie knife. Masuoka becomes obsessed with what scared the old man enough to kill himself, so he goes exploring in the bowels and tunnels under Tokyo. While there, he has a run-in with both a homeless man who warns him of Deros, inhuman beings who live on blood, and the dead man, Furoki. He then discovers a naked girl chained to a wall he names “F”. Masuoka takes F back to his place and the mute, almost feral girl essentially becomes his pet. He soon discovers that the only thing she’ll consume is blood (ravenously) and he has to turn to drastic measures to feed her, videotaping his acts the entire time. He sinks deeper into his own madness and desire to care for F until he comes to the conclusion that she isn’t meant for his world, he’s meant for hers.

Admittedly, the Japanese version of Punk’d got a little out of hand…

The Lowdown

Man, foreign film or not, this was one messed up story. It’s admittedly very slow, with minimal dialogue, but Masuoka’s journey, both literal and figurative, takes him to some disturbing places. Tomomi Miyashita is similarly disturbing in her portrayal of F, who conveys her entire performance through her eyes (she says about two lines the entire movie). Despite the pacing, what really works is Shinya Tsukamoto as he goes on the weirdest trip since Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He makes his living with his video camera but he also uses it to see the world more so than his own eyes. He takes it with him everywhere and videotapes everything. Among the more interesting characters he encounters is Furoki, post-Ginsu brain scan, and they have a couple of interesting conversations about the underworlds existing beneath every major city and how they all connect. Masuoka also runs into a man in black (Shun Sugata), who can either talk without moving his lips or is the best ventriloquist ever.

Of all the places Michael Jackson would have ended up, this is probably not that big a surprise…

Masuoka’s fixation on F fills the void in his lonely life that was initially filled with his fixation on fear and why Furoki killed himself. His single-minded determination leads him to get blood for her by any means necessary (I’m sure you can imagine where that leads him) and his indifference in his acts as seen through his video camera foreshadows his ultimate fate at the end of the film. His father / mentor relationship with F takes an even more disturbing turn when his last act of giving her blood leads to his taste-testing of a box cutter. The film is a little hard to get through, but those who like disquieting psychological journeys with touches of murder and mutilation against a bleak urban backdrop will probably go for it. So will closet bondage fetishists and vampire wannabes.

Obviously just saw Basic Instinct 2.

The Package

The cover art is decent, giving only a hint of the girl in question. The film is shot in 1.78:1 and a good chunk of it is seen through the camera’s eye, so it doesn’t always look pristine. Director Takashi Shimizu has a good eye and paints Tokyo as a cross between bright, shining metropolis and decaying urban menagerie. The sound is available in Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, and Dolby 2.0, not that it matters all that much as probably 60 – 70% of the film has no dialogue. There’s also English and Spanish subtitles. There’s a 23-minute interview with director Shimizu, a 13-minute interview with Tsukamoto, and a 16-minute one with producer Hiroshi Takahashi that all look like they were shot by a three-year-old. There’s a theatrical trailer and trailers of other Tartan titles.

"People say I’m not okay
‘Cause I love such elementary things…
It’s been my fate to compensate,
for the Childhood
I’ve never known…

6.0 out of 10