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Tokyo Psycho

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Directed by: 
Ataru Oikawa
Sachiko Kokubu
Masashi Taniguchi
Mizuho Nakamura
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 "Tokyo Psycho" begins promisingly enough: in one of many anonymous small white apartments in a sterile Tokyo high-rise tower block, an attractive young woman is being terrorised by an aggressive pounding at her front door. Peering nervously through her peep hole, she is confronted by the leering visage of a cackling, bloody-mouthed, eye-patch wearing lunatic twirling a blood-red parasol! She awakens her best friend, who is also in the apartment, and when they both go to the front door to confront the apparition, bloodstained hands claw at them through the letterbox!
This is a low budget effort, shot on Digital Video, by Ataru Oikawa, who is also the director of "Tomie"; whether or not that serves as a recommendation or not is debatable! In any case, this pre-credit sequence certainly bodes well and sets up a dark and forbidding atmosphere. The Digital Video medium gives a clammy, documentary feel to the proceedings while doom-laden piano chords accompany images of twilight-shrouded passageways. Unfortunately, this surreal menace soon degenerates into a rather sketchily-plotted psycho thriller that appears to have nothing whatsoever to do with that opening sequence, which could just as well have been from another film! The protagonist of the story is a young business woman called Yumiko Osawa (Sachiko Kokubu): a graphic designer who heads her own small business from another flat in the tower block. Strange things seem to be going on behind the doors of some of the other apartments: a young mother may be abusing her child, and a strange note wrapped in piano wire is delivered to Yumiko with the words "You are supposed to marry me!" written in blood! A visit to the local police station would seem to be the sensible option here, but this never seems to occur to our young heroine.
Instead, she goes to a school reunion with her best friend and business partner, Moe (Mizuho Nakamura) where another package is delivered: a bloodied photograph of Yumiko! Some of her old school friends reminisce over an old school photograph and a blurry figure in the background sets Yumiko thinking about a boy called Mikuriya whose high school advances she once spurned. After looking him up on the internet, Yumiko is horrified to learn that, upon leaving school, Mikuriya was committed to an institution after he strangled both of his parents with piano wire!
Still not bothered about informing the official authorities, Yumiko, instead, employs a small private detective agency to find Mikuriya. They locate his old apartment and discover a shrine to Yumiko surrounded in piano wire! Not even this inspires Yumiko to get some professionals in on the case -- so perhaps it's not too surprising that her close friends are soon being abducted and murdered one by one! One of them has an eye poked out with piano wire and another has her face removed! The killer is soon ready to reveal his true identity and confront Yumiko for a final showdown!
The screenplay by Yumeaki Hirayama manages to combine plodding predictability with an almost studied illogicality. Thin though the plotting is, it still manages to make no sense whatsoever: the former school friend who is the killer manages to pass himself off as a close friend for the entire film without it ever being deemed necessary to explain how he managed to completely change his appearance and identity; subplots, such as the supposedly abused child in the next-door apartment and that eye-patch wearing woman at the front door, are suddenly discarded; silly devices are used, such as the killer managing to perfectly disguise himself as Yumiko's best friend by skinning her face off and wearing it as a mask! But, most damaging of all is the fact that, when the heroine and her stalker finally do meet, screenwriter, Hirayama, seems not to be able to decide what should happen next! The last third of the film is taken up with the killer terrorising Yumiko via such surreally pointless exercises as tying her into a sleeping bag and rolling her down a hill & trying to force-feed her earth worms!??? Full marks to the pretty actress forced to endure all this (apparently for real!) and the actor playing the psycho certainly makes a good job of acting all crazy -- suddenly bursting into hysterical fits of laughter and violent acts at the drop of a hat -- but in the end it is all to no avail; the film stumbles to a rather limp conclusion that has the mad killer being vanquished pathetically easily by a delicate young woman half his weight! By this stage, it seems everybody involved in making the film are as eager to get to the end of it as the audience watching it will be!
The film is presented in a non-anamorphic transfer, letterboxed in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Removable Japanese subtitles are provided which are clear and easy to read. Two audio options are also provided: a Japanese 5.1 surround sound mix and a Japanese 2.0 stereo alternative which seems more than adequate for this no budget release. A small selection of extras are also included: a non-anamorphic trailer and two small interview segments, each lasting around five minutes: the behind-the-scenes segment includes on-set interviews with the principle cast members and some video footage shot at a screening includes an audience Q&A with the writers of the screenplay.
"Tokyo Psycho" is partially saved by a few nicely directed sequences but the low budget atmosphere is not enough; the film fails to build or sustain any momentum with its derivative subject matter. Disappointing.

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