Tokyo Psycho (HK - DVD)
Following on from my recent review of Cursed, I have had the opportunity to review Tokyo Horror, another new low-budget horror fil...
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Following on from my recent review of Cursed, I have had the opportunity to review Tokyo Horror, another new low-budget horror film from East Asia. Whilst I am a fan of the works of the Japanese film industry, Cursed just did not appeal to me. More a fan of the modern classic genre-breakers the Ringu trilogy, and its successors, I kept my fingers crossed that Tokyo Horror would be a better effort.
Yumiko is a pretty young girl faced with the increasingly daunting prospect of being single after her recent split with her boyfriend and now her flatmate, Miko’s, engagement. But after some strange things start occurring, she realises that being single might not be the worst that could happen to her. She starts receiving anonymous letters of marriage proposal featuring sick pictures of her as a child and covered in blood and, understandably, starts to become more than a little concern. When it turns out that her admirer is actually an old classmate from school, Igumi, her worries are not alleviated in the slightest. She gets her friend Miko to look into the case and they find out that Igumi used to live nearby, so they foolishly decide to go and investigate.
Tokyo Psycho is a strange little low budget Japanese film. Although it does not feel quite as low budget as Cursed, the other Japanese horror I recently reviewed, that is probably purely because they use simpler ideas (if that is possible) to scare. In actual fact, it is occasionally quite effective in its use of scare tactics and terror—even if it more often than not just relies on young girls in ridiculously and implausibly dangerous situations screaming when the predictably ‘unexpected’ happens. The plot relies on twists to keep you interested and probably succeeds more than fails in that bid, but it is not the worst film that I have come across. The lead actress who plays Yumiko is reasonable and most of the actors do an average if distinctly unexceptional job, barely holding things together with such a dodgy script and story.
Unfortunately, in a similar vein to Cursed, Tokyo Psycho suffers very badly from unprofessional subtitling and once again this utterly ruins any enjoyment you could hope to have watching the movie. You spend so long mulling over the abysmal English that you are often several seconds behind what is actually going on on-screen. I don’t know how much of a shame it is—the movie isn’t that good—but I guess that it is a shame when any movie gets such bad treatment. All it needed to fix the problem was somebody with English as their native language rewriting the subtitles to correspond with the actions on-screen. Names are muddled up, sentences make absolutely no sense and worse, and it really ruins the movie. The end result is yet another low-budget below-average movie made worse by poor presentation, and there is little left about it that I can recommend.
The movie is presented in a rather confusingly-framed non-anamorphic transfer. Although labelled as being fullscreen, it looked letterboxed in a rather odd 2.05:1 aspect ratio to me. Still, the transfer perfectly suits the low-budget ‘style’, if you can call it that. It is lacking in detail with softness prevalent and, on occasion, even some edge enhancement. Some scenes have more of a propensity for grain than others and the colour scheme is both limited and not represented that well, although at least the blood comes across as correctly crimson. The blacks are disappointingly shallow and overall this is a lacklustre effort, but exactly what you would expect for the material.
There are several tracks on offer here—so many that it beggars belief considering the rest of the disc’s content. The primary track is a DTS 5.1 original Japanese mix that is predominantly frontal in its representation and mainly relies on clear vocals for its audio substance. There are a few effects, although they lack directionality, and the occasional scoring and musical tracks provide a little more fuel for the speakers. There is almost no bass, and it is one of the worst examples of DTS ever used. The original Japanese Dolby 5.1 track is certainly no better, but nor is it any worse. There is also a Japanese 2.0 track that is significantly worse than either of the six-speaker efforts and a dubbed Cantonese Dolby 5.1 track. There are subtitles in English and Cantonese.
There are two extras: a ten-minute collection of interviews with the main cast and crew (oddly enough given slightly better subtitling than the main feature) and a trailer for the even more disappointing companion feature, Cursed.
Well, what can I say? If you are an avid fan of this particular genre then I wouldn’t be surprised if you chose to pick this up—I’m sure you would enjoy it. But for fans of slightly bigger budget, more stylish, coherent works then I would recommend you look elsewhere. And even if you are tempted—be warned—the subtitling is so bad that it could ruin the entire movie for you just like it did me.
You can order this title for $10.90 from top retailer Play-Asia.
Review by Casimir Harlow
Not suitable for young persons and children
Release Date: 24th March 2005
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Aspect: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Audio: DTS 5.1 Japanese, Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese, Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese, Dolby Digital 5.1 Cantonese
Subtitles: English, Cantonese
Extras: Interviews, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Ataru Oikawa
Cast: Kokubun Sachiko, Masashi Taniguchi, Mizuho Nakamura
Length: 96 minutes
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