Screen Reviews


directed by Naoki Yoshimoto

starring Masaya Adachi and Ayumi Kakizawa

Stavros Films and MVD Visual

In 2011, there is still room in cinema for the Avant Garde. Director Naoki Yoshimoto offers us an Eastern take on the classic Romanian vampire freak fest of tainted blood spoiling an otherwise wonderful romance. A young man (Masaya Adachi) attempt to scare his girlfriend (Ayumi Kakizawa) with a story as old as count Vlad. She seems ill; he seems like a guy messing with his girl’s head just to be a jerk. But does infected blood flow in the Nipponese veins? The narrative fades from gritty realism to pure visual horror as Kakizawa transforms into a low res television image and Adachi is tied to a chair, helplessly watching his demise build in ever stranger visuals. Is there a denouement? That would be telling, but if I had to pick a western equivalent to this film it would be Lynch’s “Erasrehead” minus the Peter Ivers soundtrack. Bits of camp flirt along the outside of the screen, but plastic fangs and chocolate syrup blood don’t disturb the sense of foreboding, the black and white look of the creep scenes fails to disconnect you from the couple’s undead journey.

Here we retreat from the explicit gore of late 20th century disgust-o-rama horror to the early days of stylized menace: over exposed black and white imagery, death as a metaphor for sex, and nods to The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari and Nosferatu coalesce in one bloodletting vessel. Man submits to Woman, Woman seduces Man, they achieve a symbolic yet sexual death and their remaining humanity is incised in the scars and tattoos of his body. “I must protect my purity!” she exclaims, yet there her body lies – bloody and ugly in an abattoir of a bathtub. This is horror as opera, and the ghosts of the Far East show us their real inner beauty: they may command us to “Go Away!” yet in subtext they coo “Come to me!”

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