Written by: John White on February 4th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2004
Director: Ataru Oikawa
Cast: Seiji Chihara, Yuka Hayashi, Sachiko Kokubu, Mizuho Nakamura, Masashi Taniguchi
DVD released: February 28th, 2006
Approximate running time: 79 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterboxed
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo/DD 5.1
DVD Release: Panik House
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
Keisuke is being stalked. Hands leap through her letter box and grab her and she receives a letter which says “You were born to marry me”. She recognises the letter as one she tore up when she was at school and the subject of a strange obsession from student Mikuriya. Her worries increase when she receives further packages and she engages private eye Mika to look into the matter. Mika discovers that Mikuriya was sent to reform school for killing his parents and that he has returned to Japan. She is mortified when she finds that he has a flat near hers which is a shrine to her. More revelations will bring her friends and herself into peril.
Despite the trawling of the headlines for topicality this is a pretty straight stalker movie with a few effective sequences and some neat images. This was clearly shot on DV with a very small budget. Oikawa seems to see this film as a modern parable to make people more conscious of strangers.
The strengths of the film lie in some good set-piece scares and a terrific use of sound. The scenes at the very beginning and in the opening 20 minutes are the most successful as the denouement of the film is rather quickly delivered. The middle of the film squanders the early creepiness with really bad scripting and poor performances from subsidiary characters. Mika, the private eye, is frankly awful and wholly unbelievable particularly when she and Keisuke are investigating Mikuriya’s apartment. Similarly Moe as Keisuke’s friend is irritating in the extreme and her loss of face is wholly earned. Keisuke eventually learns the identity of her stalker but her failure to recognise him earlier brings suffering to her friends.
The final 15 minutes of the film are excruciating as the actor playing the killer is terrible and when he enters “mad” mode it is nothing more than pantomime posturing. Still the opening of the film is worth praise and it is a pity that the film didn’t follow this early direction more closely.
Panik House were responsible for some of the best discs of 2005 with the excellent Sex and Fury and the Pinky Violence Collection. With this disc comes the novelty of a jigsaw of the film’s cover which is something I haven’t seen before. The rest of the disc is a fine show on their part with a good transfer of the DV source which is also non-anamorphic. The English subtitles are excellent and the sound is breathtaking with excellent rumbling bass.
The extras on the disc are plentiful. The film comes with a commentary in either Spanish or English, a behind the scenes feature, premiere footage and essays by Selwyn Harris on the news stories which inspired the film. There are also trailers including one for Teruo Ishii’s Screwed which has this reviewer salivating for that release.
Panik House have done a great job on this film as per usual, however I would not recommend the film unless you are familiar with the director’s previous efforts like Tomie.
For more information about Tokyo Psycho visit Panik House here.