Tokyo Psycho Review

Tokyo Psycho’s sleeve image may recall a gender reversal on that which accompanied Ichi the Killer, yet the film itself is far removed from Takashi Miike’s offbeat madness. Ataru Oikawa earns points for weirdness courtesy of his bizarre pre-credit sequence and the topless guy at the school reunion, but otherwise this is a comparatively ordinary affair. Then again, maybe this is the point. It is, after all, supposedly based on a true story.

In a nutshell, Yohiko is being stalked. First she receives a letter in the mail adorned with the words “You are supposed to marry me” and attendant freaky attachments, then the subsequent packages become more and more disturbing. Following the aforementioned reunion she comes across an old photograph with a mysterious figure lurking in the background. He was Mikariya, the school’s weirdo and once upon a time infatuated with her. Nothing’s been heard of his since, though there are rumours that he’d killed his parents with piano wire and he may living nearby…

Understandably, this setup shackles Oikawa more to the thriller than it does the horror movie, and it’s apparent that he feels less comfortable here. He continually uses familiar tropes from the latter (brooding corridor prowls, ominous scoring, etc.), but not only do they come across as predictable and hackneyed, they also seem out of place. Indeed, Tokyo Psycho plays far better when it enhances the everyday. The DV photography – though on the cheap side – aids this, as does a particularly find murder scene, all the more chilling for the near complete lack of stylisation.

Sadly, Oikawa doesn’t stay on the same track throughout. He lets his cast – especially the male contingent – get away with some horrible histrionics (which only takes away whatever realism the DV is able to provide) and also has a tendency towards the heavy-handed. There would appear to be little trust in the audience on Oikawa’s part, rather every major development is shamelessly flagged and punctuated by flashbacks to corresponding moments from previous scenes, even if they elapsed only minutes ago. Thus whenever Yoshiko finds out a new clue, we continually cut back to the first letter, the subsequent packages and the photograph, just so that it all becomes abundantly clear. And it’s hardly as though we’re being bombarded with additional information elsewhere - Tokyo Psycho is far too simple for that.

Furthermore, Oikawa has that annoying tendency of being overly flashy as much as possible. Awkward angles appear simply because they’re awkward angles and because he wishes to impress. Indeed, there’s something of the calling card about Tokyo Psycho; the irony is that it alerts us to very little talent.

The Disc

Tokyo Psycho comes to the UK DVD market in less than impressive form. A Region 0 release, it seems unlikely that Screen Entertainment will pick up much of an audience from the UK, let alone other territories. The image is dull and murky at the best of times and has been transferred non-anamorphically (in its original ratio of 1.78:1). Moreover, it is also often riddled with artefacting, though given the film’s cheapness it is difficult to ascertain just how much of this is the result of the disc’s authoring and how much is in inherent in the original production. Either way, Tokyo Psycho isn’t exactly pretty to look at. As for the soundtrack, we’re offered a choice of either DD2.0 or a 5.1 mix. Neither is particularly impressive, though again this may be the result of the film’s production as opposed to flaws in the disc itself.

Surprisingly the film also comes with a handful of extras beside the promos for other Screen Entertainment/Hardgore releases (promos which have, incidentally, raised the disc to an 18 certificate, the BBFC having rated Tokyo Psycho a 15). Sadly, these offer very little of interest as they amount to a perfunctory making of featurette (informal interviews intercut with B-roll footage), some material from the film’s premiere (though far too short for the Q&A footage to offer any depth) and the obligatory trailer. Yet whilst it’s nice to see some extras where we perhaps wouldn’t expect them, they add little to the film itself and are unlikely to receive more than an initial viewing.

As with main feature, the English subtitles on the extras are optional.

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Last updated: 30/04/2018 23:22:48

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