It’s no surprise that I’m an Asian horror fan. I love ’em all. Not all are spectacular and in many cases they’re nothing more than shallow, mirror images of far better films. Unfortunately, The Asian horror boom has died out in the States. Now all I ever hear is horror fans whine about not liking subtitles and being sick of ghosts with long black hair. Obviously, they aren’t looking hard enough for the worthwhile efforts like Acacia, A Tale of Two Sisters, Shutter and R Point. I really can’t see how fans can burn out after only 4 years of Asian horror after being subjected to hundreds of slasher films in the last 25 years but to each his/her own. One man’s “scary movie” is another man’s beer run. One thing I believe fans need to understand about Asian cinema is that it’s not all that different from American cinema. Not ALL Japanese directors can make good horror films.
Yumiko (Sachiko Kokubu) is the average Japanese working woman. She’s good looking, owns a graphics business with her best friend Moe (Mizuho Nakamura) and appears to be relatively happy. One terrifying morning she hears some knocking and is terrified to find a freakish “woman” outside waiting. Deciding not to open the door, the strange woman crams her hands in the mail slot and grasps as Yumiko and Moe. The viewer is left wondering, “Is this the Tokyo Psycho?” as the bizarre woman runs off cackling, blood oozing from her mouth.
After such a shock, Yumiko’s friend Moe decides to lay another big one on her by introducing her new and mysterious boyfriend, Osamu (Masashi Taniguchi). They appear to be serious and even talk marriage. He seems to be nice enough but Yumiko a bit too preoccupied to really get friendly.
Strange things begin to happen after this incident that Yumiko just can’t ignore. Especially when she receives a package containing a letter strung together with piano wire that reads, “I know you were meant to marry me.” Something just ain’t right but she still decides to head to her Class Reunion with Moe anyhow hoping to relax and have some fun. There, she meets up with her old friend Mika who now runs an investigation service. During the festivities a picture is brought out that shows Mike, Moe and Yumiko together as well as the unsettling image of a hidden onlooker. It appears to be Mikuriya, a troubled young man that had a crush on Yumiko before being transferred to another school. The realization dawns on Yumiko that her stalker just might be this weirdo. Before the party lets up, a package is delivered to Yumiko containing a bloody photo of her from school.
Once home, she does some digging and finds out Mikuriya was sent away after killing his parents with piano wire and cutting their faces off. The terror has definitely set in so she goes to see Mika in hopes of hiring her to find out if it’s really Mikuriya behind the madness. Mika is able to locate an apartment that was believed to of been previous residence and both Yumiko and Mika enter to investigate. They’re horrified by a frightful altar made of piano wire and a picture of Yumiko. Running from the place frantically, Yumiko faints in the arms of Osamu, Moe’s boyfriend, who just happens to be passing by.
After awakening she discovers she’s back in her home with Osamu watching over her. Mika gets back after grabbing some groceries and Osamu informs Yumiko that Moe is in the hospital. He makes his exit and Mika also decides to head out as well…DEATH BEFALLS HER. Suspecting Osamu, and after trying unsuccessfully trying to get a hold of the absent Mika, Yumiko calls Moe in order to warn her that Osamu may not be who they all thought he was. Moe, once again, drops another bomb and announces she’s pregnant…with Osamu’s child. She agrees to meet Yumiko though so they can talk.
There’s a hitch…Moe shows up…only the person behind Moe’s face…is no longer Moe.
Oh me oh my! This should have been so much scarier than it ended up being. I was actually a bit disappointed to be honest. Aside from a few bloody pictures and the overuse of piano wire, there was really nothing in this film that had me shaken. There were a couple visuals in her that were quite stylish and disturbing but nothing to send your children into their bedrooms over.
Osamu/Mikuriya was crazy. Just to be sure we understand, he cackles and howls like a crazed old lady shopping for shoe deals after Thanksgiving. If you didn’t think he was crazy after that, perhaps you’ll understand the demonic insanity that infects his brain after you watch him chew a mouthful…of earthworms. My…God. Forget Hannibal, Patrick Bateman, Norman Bates, Lucky or KatieBird…Osamu chews worms…BITCHES. This film’s psychopath was even created from an amalgamation of two real life Japanese serial killers; though don’t expect a subtle, thought-provoking portrayal. Taniguchi yaps, howls, whines, screams and sings…no cool-as-a-cucumber killer here, folks.
All joking aside, if you’re not a big fan of shot-on-video films, you may not be able to appreciate this film for what it is…which is shot-on-video. I’d also like to point out that this was directed by Ataru Oikawa, the director behind Tomie. Personally, I hated Tomie but in all fairness to Tokyo Psycho, it should be judged solely on its own merits and shortcomings. Unfortunately, there’s more of the latter than former. If you’re a fan of Oikawa’s work though, this is recommended.
I would like to point out that Panik House Entertainment has done a phenomenal job on this release. Not only is this DVD packed with extras and commentary but you’re even given a choice of a Spanish or English menu! This release also comes with a sticker, chapter card and a limited edition jigsaw puzzle featuring the DVD’s front cover artwork. I believe only the first 7,500 releases will come with the puzzle. Panik house is really giving fans some fantastic product.