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Blood, Murder (Stabbing, Suffocation, And Gunshot), Depiction of Dead Bodies, Depiction of Being Bullied, Suicide, Depictions of Rape, Violence Against Women, Depictions of Car Accidents (Vehicular Manslaughter), Mental Illness (Schizophrenia and Manic/ Depression), Torture (Stabbing And Body Mutilation), Depiction Of Internal Organs, and Drug Use
Characters & Story (with Commentary)
Kanako Fujishima (Nana Komatsu), at a distance, is the girl next girl. She is the one you get a crush on, dream of dating or marrying, and are shocked when she even looks your way. So when she goes missing, her father Akikazu (Kôji Yakusho) naturally goes mad.
Well, who am I kidding? He was crazy before he even learned his estranged daughter was missing. But the reason why she ended up missing is what this story is really about. For, like many a heartbreaking first crush, we learn she chews many people up and spits them out.
Oh My God, the Violence
Though Martyrs, the original, not the remake, remains the most violent film I have probably, and hopefully ever will, see, this one makes quite the fight to be in 2nd place. I mean, from gunshots to Akikazu hitting people with his car, the stabbings, and damn near every trigger warning above, this film never really gives you any break. Which is solely a highlight for it isn’t done like how American horror movies usually use violence, but because it strangely melds so well with the story that while gratuitous, it is hard to imagine this film without such violence.
There Is an Actual Good Story Here
I won’t pretend and make it seem this movie has some sort of award-winning story, but I must admit, between the violence and wondering what kind of person was Kanako, and if perhaps she was even real at times, I was well entertained during the nearly 2-hour length of this movie.
As part of building the case for Kanako being as her father chooses to remember her, we are given the opportunity to see her three years prior to the main events of the story. Which, thankfully, are given time stamps to signify when we are in the past or present. Something I’m noting as a highlight only because with Akikazu being out of his mind, it helped constrict the number of questions you have about what is going on, could this person from three years ago actually be him decades ago, and perhaps most of the film being just his delusions.
As we meet Akikazu and learn about Kanako, there remain quite a few things, even by the end of the movie, we just don’t figure out. Just to throw some examples out there, you have to wonder what was the thing which led to Akikazu leaving the police force, much less if his mental illness was from birth or due to something which happened? Then, when it comes to Kanako, how did she begin her descent down the rabbit hole and find her niche in Wonderland?
On The Fence
Was The Violence Truly Necessary?
In my mind, I compare this film to Anna (Mindscape) and Regression in terms of slowly peeling away the layers of a girl who looks innocent until we learn she is anything but. However, one clear difference with Kanako is the violence surrounding her. Which, while part of the praise, I must admit sometimes felt like it was compensating for something.
For the way Akikazu acts, and the world Kanako is in, this could have been a thriller or something similar. Yet instead, it is a blood bath and makes the truth about Kanako revealed a bit too early on and a bit too obvious as well. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, hence why I’m on the fence about it, but considering how despicable the girl is, I wish the build to the reveal was handled better.
Let me begin by saying, is this necessarily a good movie? Uh, probably not. However, this is the type of film I think doesn’t leave you. Not just because of the violence and the numerous depictions of rape but because it is more than just that. There is some sort of story amongst all this craziness, and it drags your mind in, perhaps kicking and screaming, and rarely lets you go. To the point that it becomes hard not to really want another person to watch this, just so they can experience the craziness first hand. For, at its best, this is the type of movie that potentially might be considered so bad it is good. At its worse, though, it is what American horror auteurs perhaps aspire to reach in terms of the limits of cinema. Blood, torture, sexual violence, and just enough story to keep it from seeming like dark web porn.
With that said, though, I would never watch this again but would definitely tell people about it.