Tokyo Psycho (2004)

DVD Cover (Panik House)
Ataru Oikawa Ataru Oikawa
Seiji Chihara Seiji Chihara
Yuka Hayashi Yuka Hayashi
Sachiko Kokubu Sachiko Kokubu
Mizuho Nakamura Mizuho Nakamura
Masashi Taniguchi Masashi Taniguchi

3.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Horror, Psychological Thriller
Sachiko Kokubu, the beautiful owner of a Tokyo design agency, finds her life disrupted when she receives paper scraps stitched together with piano wire with the message "I know you were meant to marry me." As further messages come she embarks on a nightmare investigation to uncover the identity of her tormentor. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: March 22, 2006
Tonight's tale of obsession from Japan centers around young Yumiko Osawa (Sachiko Kokubun), a graphics designer who is about to encounter some very odd happenings around her apartment complex. While working late in her apartment / office one night, she hears somebody banging on the door; upon investigation, she sees an odd-looking woman standing just outside her door. Frightened by this, Yumiko calls out to her best friend and co-worker Moe Masumoto (Mizuho Nakamura), who comes running to the door to see what all of this ruckus is about. When she gets there and tries to comfort Yumiko, this woman reaches her hands through the mail slot of the door and grabs Yumiko by the arm, scaring the shit out of her before letting go and running away. We cut outside to see this woman, and we see something that Yumiko didn't... this woman is obviously insane and has blood covering her mouth.

A few days later, Moe announces to Yumiko that she is engaged to be married to her fiancÚ Osamu Komiya (Masashi Taniguchi). This is great and all, but Yumiko has some marriage problems of her own. You see, she recently received a strange letter in the mail, a letter consisting of scraps of paper which were sewn together with piano wire and spotted with blood that simply says "You were born to marry me." An over-zealous stalker, perhaps? Yumiko hires an investigator by the name of Mika Nakahara (Yuka Hayashi) to help track down this stalker, and she finds out that this letter (and the mail that follows) is likely the work of Mikuriya, a strange fellow that Yumiko attended school with. It turns out that Mikuriya was obsessed with her years ago, but was sent to America for psychiatric testing after murdering his parents with a length of piano wire. With the stalker apparently discovered, it's just a matter of finding him and putting an end to this before he does something a wee bit worse than sending letters...

In the late eighties, four young children were brutally murdered and raped in Japan... yes, in that order. This real-life murderer, who used scenes from Guinea Pig: Flower Of Flesh And Blood as a template for his murders and was known as The Otaku Killer in the press, is who this film is loosely based upon according to a bonus feature on the Panik House DVD release. There are no children murdered in this movie, thank goodness, but the deranged psychopath aspect definitely shines through when the killer makes himself known.

Now, there have been a lot of complaints about this title, but personally, I found it to be quite enjoyable. The chief complaints against this film are the budget and the storyline itself. While I can't defend the movie against the budget concerns as it was obviously shot on a very low budget (they even used a hand-held camera for a good number of scenes), I can say that none of these budget issues affected the movie in my view. It's true that the picture quality won't test the limits of your brand new HDTV setup, but it certainly wasn't anything that would detract from the overall experience either. Your mileage may vary though, so I thought I should point that out in fairness.

On the storyline side of things, it seems as though a lot of reviewers out there in Internet-land are under the impression that any movie coming from Japan has to be about spooky, long-haired girls that emerge from wells. There are no ghosts here, there are no paranormal activities, and there certainly aren't any little girls that will leave you quivering with fear in your closet. This film is all about one man's obsession with Yumiko and the lengths that he will go to in order to make his love known to her and attempt to make her return the sentiment. In that regard, the movie is a success; director Ataru Oikawa does an excellent job of putting the viewer inside the head of the stalker, showing you things from his point of view while also showing you the effect that he has on poor Yumiko. If you were disappointed in The Silence of the Lambs due to the lack of ghosts and / or demons, this would be a film to avoid... if, however, you enjoyed that film, this would be another that you would find interesting.

The only fault that I found in this movie was that some of the scenes moved a bit too slowly for my tastes. These scenes turned out to be important later in the film, but at the time they're being played out, I found myself checking the time remaining on my DVD player and twiddling my thumbs. The film is pretty short though, clocking in at just over seventy minutes, so it should go without saying that these scenes are few and far between and that it doesn't take long before everything is set into motion.

If you can push the budget issues aside as easily as I did and if you don't go in expecting a Ringu clone, you'll find a pretty engrossing film. There are some very creepy scenes to be found here, and there are some that are just downright disturbing. Put together, these scenes tell the story of an extremely deranged man, and it tells it in such a way as to keep the viewer clamoring for more. If that's the sort of thing that you're looking for, you definitely can't go wrong with this title. 7/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 11/09/2008, 10:44 PM
It was a pretty interesting story and it was well acted, but it moved a little slow for my taste. And the ending, while a happy one, was a little too boring.

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