The overrated and lame William Friedkin should seriously take notes from these authentic shockfests before his time runs out, because Shion Sono's challenging wild rides are disturbingly bizarre roller-coasters with explosive directorial trademarks and sequences impossible to forget.
I said it in Cold Fish (2010) and I'll say it now: overall, Japanese cinema consists in stimula that cause cognitive dissonance, a psychological response that is unpredictable most of the times. This consists in setting a scenario and contrasting it with something seemingly contradictory, such as a beautiful score against a harrowing background, or splitting the entire product into two separate and different parts. The entire "Hate Trilogy" applied such technique with wonderful precision, and throughout, Sono learned how to develop characters and the situations in which they are placed, so that the gruesome paybacks could escalate tension slowly and mercilessly in an easier way.
On the other hand, the main differentiation between Sono and wanna-be disturbing directors like Friedkin is that he keeps the whole story engaging and interesting to look at; in this way, the entire second act acquires more meaning, and therefore, more shock value. What is so brilliant about Sono is that:
- He adds emotional depth to the story, so you'll need the time to avoid having a heart attack and, once that's done, then you can wrap your head around the final product.
- He uses extreme violence as a perfect complement for psychological horror , which is the main aim of his films. Directors fail because their aim is graphic violence. If there's no substance to behold in the background, it becomes meaningless and is degraded to mere forgettable entertainment.
My only concern with this mutant baby is that it places the murder story as a secondary plot device to unfold what actually is the descent to hell of a woman's morality. It lacks focus. Instead of splitting the movie into three parts, it was divided into two. I wouldn't have minded a three-hour film, given that he has proven himself to be talented (and crazy) enough to compile a 4-hour collage of pieces of contradictory madness. Still, the film offers enough content to asault the senses and enough substance to reflect on.
Based on a real-life murder case, Koi no tsumi is a rare movie to appreciate.