1999 Dir: Takashi Miike With: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura
'Deeper, deeper, deeper!'
Seven years after the death of his wife, Aoyama (Ishibashi) decides to start dating again, encouraged by his son, in the hope that he may find a new wife. Not quite knowing how to go about this, a movie producer friend helps him arrange a fake movie audition so he can meet 30 different women. He is taken by one of their photos and information she supplies about herself, and at the audition he is quite besotted with this lovely, young thing (even though she has an odd air about her.) Her name is Asami, and he immediately falls head over heels with her. He phones her to meet him for dinner and she agrees and they hit it off..
At the beginning this film seems like a sentimental, romance, with this older man wooing this younger woman. Further along however, after this slow and slightly poetic beginning, things suddenly get weird! While he's on the phone to her one night we witness something in the room behind Asami, something tied up in a large sack, making a noise like some kind of animal!
Aoyama goes away for the weekend with Asami, they stay at a hotel. On the first night she strips while Aoyama is discussing (by himself) what they could do - he suggests a gallery, she has other ideas! After she has shed her clothes, she gets into bed. Asami tells him to go over to her. When she invites him to admire her body, he sees that she has cuts on her thighs He then joins her in bed and they make love.
Next morning she has vanished, forcing him to cut short his weekend.
He searches for her, but at the ballet school she used to attend as a girl, he meets a man in a wheelchair who is unable to stand without difficulty, and we see that his feet are fixed to wooden boards!. Aoyama is disturbed by the man's behaviour and the things he says about Asami He also visits The Stone Fish, the bar where Asami said she worked, and he discovers that the bar was closed over a year ago when the owner was murdered. He learns from a man that the owner was cut to pieces, and that the strange thing was that they found more fingers than they should have done when they recovered the body, and an extra tongue (yikes!) At this point you become convinced you are watching a ghost story.
However, nothing can prepare you for the shocking ending. We see someone entering Aoyama's apartment from their point of view, and when Aoyama returns - while his son is away - he mysteriously falls over backwards.
There now follows a series of bizarre flashbacks where scenes you've already seen are revisited and you learn more information about our Asami and her abuse from her stepfather and her ballet teacher (who would cut her legs to "encourage" her to dance better!)
Asami makes an appearance, dressed strangely in apron and gloves, and ...
Well, without giving away the ending which bears some resemblance to Stephen King's Misery (only bloodier!) it's something you may wish to avoid if you haven't got a strong stomach. Nothing prepares you for this last scene - so I'm not going to either!
And she seemed like such a nice girl too!
If you happen to catch this film on TV don't turn off halfway through thinking that it's a bit slow and that nothing horrific is going to happen, you'll miss out on what the "thing" tied up in the sack turns out to be (that alone will shock you!) and you'll also miss out on the even more shocking ending!