Toshie NegishiKenji MizuhashiMutsuo YoshiokaAiri Matsuyama
The Woman Who Keeps a Murderer
Also known as: Satsujinki o kau onna
Medium: film
Year: 2019
Director: Hideo Nakata
Writer: Kaori Yoshida
Original creator: Kei Oishi
Actor: Rin Asuka, Shin'ya Hamada, Airi Matsuyama, Kenji Mizuhashi, Hitomi Nakatani, Toshie Negishi, Mutsuo Yoshioka, Shoka Oshima
Keywords: horror, boobs
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 83 minutes
Website category: J-sleaze
Review date: 23 November 2019
Well, that was unpleasant. Lots of sex, none of it good. It's based on a novel by Kei Ohishi, a writer whose work has been adapted into quite a few movies, both in Japanese and English. His adapted novels include titles like Sweet Whip and The Shonan Flesh-Eating Doctor.
As for the director, he previously made the most famous Japanese horror movie of all time, Ringu.
That said, though, I watched this film for a more frivolous reason. Rin Asuka and Airi Matsuyama had previously acted together in the 2008-09 Higurashi films, so I was curious about seeing them reunited. Alas, I was disappointed. I recognised Matsuyama, but Asuka's role is so different from Mion that I wasn't sure if it was definitely her. Plus, of course, it's been ten years since the Higurashi films.
It's about a woman (Kyoko) who was sexually abused by her stepfather when she was ten years old. She pushed him over a balcony. Twenty years later, she's a unhappy, frightened lady who lives alone with three other women. (She can be the only person in the room and yet be having a conversation with them. She can see them in front of her. Sometimes we can too. They have arguments together.) Supporting characters include her novelist neighbour and her yakuza-like mother, who extorts money from her daughter so that she can throw it at her toyboy.
This film is full of horrible people. Kyoko's mother is monstrous. Men will be panty thieves, or will masturbate while eavesdropping on you. Kyoko's "flatmates" can be sexually aggressive to the point of questionable consent, or else mentally stuck in childhood. Don't lend them precious things, unless you want to see them in the garbage the next day. Kyoko's the nearest thing we have to a nice person (although she's also an apologetic doormat) and she's... uh, well, let's say it's complicated. That said, though, the film's not cold. Despite everything, it has sympathetic characters. I wanted Kyoko and her novelist neighbour to beat the odds and be happy, even as the film kept making that look like an exceedingly unlikely outcome.
Watching this film means entering a nasty, hateful world. You're not meant to enjoy it.
There's also lots of sex. Lots and lots. Probably too much, in fact. I considered using the fast-forward button at least once. Bizarrely, though, it's possible that I was watching the censored version. The movie's original cut was rated 'R18+' by Japan's Film Classification and Rating Organization on March 29, 2018, while its edited cut was rated 'R15+' on the same day. I don't know which one I watched. However, if there's a more explicit cut than this, I bet it needed editing to keep the audience awake.
It's nasty. That's the point. At that, the film succeeds in spades. It wants to make you feel unpleasant and dirty. However its storyline is exceedingly simple, being essentially a character study of distressing psychological problems. There will be blood. The running time is short and the plotting is minimal.
Would I recommend this film? Not to normal people. You wouldn't want someone walking in halfway through and finding you watching it. However it's also a bad choice if you're looking for sleazy exploitation fun. "Fun" is not on the menu. It's too twisted and uncomfortable for that. It's a film with integrity, though, if you don't mind an excess of sex scenes (which technically are often very weird masturbation). Everyone commits to their roles admirably.
It's dour, off-putting and a bit samey. Lots and lots of nudity. Ditto for unpleasant characterisation. Personally, though, I can at least respect it. It knows exactly what it's aiming for and it's not compromising an inch.