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Living Hell / Iki-jigoku (JAPAN 2000)

Director : Shugo Fujii
Cast :  Hirohito Honda, Yoshiko Shiraishi, Rumi, Kazuo Yashiro, Naoko Mori, Shugo Fujii and Hitoshi Suwabe

Chiyo, an old woman and her granddaughter, Yuki, are the sole survivors of a horrendous crime which wipes out an entire family. They find solace under the roof of far-removed relatives. The family’s son, confined to a wheelchair, has a terrible premonition when the two women arrive, which will be verified in the most horrifying way. Because, when the house is empty, the boy is made to suffer sadistic games at the women mercy, which become more and more violent making his life a living hell.

by Edward Tang

Right off the bat, Living Hell catches your attention with it’s bizarre music and of course a girl eating a dog. Yeah eating a dog. I hate horror films because most of them lack creativity and they just play with a simple idea for the length of the film. Most of the time you are given one thing, and they try to play you on it for the entire film. Then all of a sudden, some sort of a surprise occurs, which drags us into the other parallel, either something is wrong with the main character, or something is revealed to change our perception of what is exactly going on. This film is exactly what I am talking about. “Living Hell” is bizarre in the fact that they actually tried to build a story! Rather than give us one detail and run for that the entire show, they build onto what we already know. This film isn’t full of that many violent scenes, and surely isn’t a heart pounder, but it gives you enough odd moments to throw eggs at. When the truth is revealed at the end of the film, to me, if felt like rehashed material from a prior film. Whether or not you like this sort of thing, Living Hell dishes out enough odd moments to annoy any person who has a regular IQ. Being compared to genre classics such as “The Evil Dead” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is a waste and only to grab hopeful Blockbuster renters.

Hirohito Honda stars as Yasu, a wheelchair bound 22 year old. Hirohito got on my nerves quick, not only was he a typically out of the blue character, his constant screaming got on my last nerve. You could pull anyone off the street that could match his whiny look and his worthless approach to a character of such. Yoshikio Shiraishi plays the weird Chiyo, the woman who has killed before and enters this house without ever saying anything. The old lady looked creepy, but didn’t maintain anything that could be considered chops. Probably the one picture that I’m reminded of is her holding a stun gun and sort of smiling. To me, that looked like the campiest motherfucking thing you could ever do. The rest of the cast is basic, and if you think Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the word “cannibals”, you got the plot in your back pocket.

But in such a horror film, I was expecting something to actually get my heart pounding. But most of it was just torturing this guy and then we find out the “truth” which was wasteful in attempt in a try for a “surprise” ending. Basically the torture scenes involed throwing darts at someone (they painted a bulls-eye on his chest and I laughed my ass off), electrocuting the guy’s nuts, ripping out his tooth and feeding him bowls of dead roaches and they killed his parakeet.Yeah so the visual effects didn’t help the film either, and I was constantly scratching my head on what this film was actually about. Then to the side story, trying to find out where Chiyo and Yuki were. See this could have been done well, but we got into some kind of story about combined twins that were female and male? I just didn’t get why this was important to the story. Actually, as I think of it now, I assume that the attempt to use this storyline of twins, was meant to make the main character go crazy. CRAZY!

This film had a horrible pace and was boring, although it didn’t last very long. But in the end, everything is just miserable. The main character is screaming his head off, because ladies and gentlemen, he’s a cooky fucker. He is crazy! I get the friggin’ picture. Let me explain to you the plot in a few words or less. “Cannibals reconnect with family and main character finds out he is crazy”. There you go, now you can go without renting this tragedy that is named a film. Maybe I’m a little harsh, but I just didn’t enjoy myself. Some horror movies can just get you involved with the storyline, and make you wonder what the finale will bring. Will this character win at the end? But this film gives you unlikable people and borrows from Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the ending. Let me tell you about the ending, basically it’s the biggest case of overracting I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t creepy, it was too campy to be mentioned in the same sentence.

So what do we got here? “Living Hell” is so basic and boring that I was literally falling asleep whilst watching it. Yes through eating dogs and all. The “surprise” ending will probably come to you (as it did me) about half way through the film, because they did it so cheaply. The visuals are lacking and the entire film seems like an anti-drug campaign against marijuana, and why it is bad to use during filmmaking. I didn’t get jack shit out of this movie, and hopefully you don’t waste your time like I did.

Plot : 2/5
Acting : 2/5
Entertainment : 1/5
Overall : 1/5

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