Review by: Dave Wain
Stars: Aidan Bristow, Johnny Young, Michael Madsen, Kyle Lardner, Lisa Cullen
Written by: Shan Serafin
UK Certification: 15
UK RRP: £12.99
UK DVD Region: 2
Runtime: 94 minutes
Directed by: Shan Serafin
UK Release Date: 19th May 2014
Distributor: Point Blank
I used to play a “who’s buying the next round” game called The Michael Madsen. It would typically involve a few friends out for a number of beers, then whenever there was query over who was going to get the next round in we’d do this thing where everyone had to guess how many projects MM had in development over at IMDb. This typically could range from 10 to 40, and the person furthest away would have to stump up their cash. Oh yes – we knew how to have fun! Its 16 (currently) if you’re interested, besides it’s been replaced now by The Eric Roberts (currently 72 – yep, I’m serious).
Anyway, that moment of dull reminiscing came about purely as I haven’t seen the big guy in a movie for quite some time. Here he is in this independent horror movie from first time director Shan Serafin which opens in Japan during a brief post-credits sequence on Mount Fuji as we witness Ariana (Lardner) an American cover girl committing suicide in the ‘infamous’ suicide forest.
Much of the narrative takes place in Japan following a mysterious acid attack on a model by the name of Nichole (Stella March). As she was home alone with her new boyfriend Jason (who happens to be Ariana’s ex-boyfriend), Tokyo PD focus the majority of the investigation on him as it seems largely impossible for any other person to have committed those actions. Jason, who is a photographer is eventually freed and heads back to where the other models in the company are waiting to undertake a shoot, but following the mysterious events he wants to investigate for himself just exactly what might have happened last night in his apartment.
Jason continues to do some digging, but the further he delves the more strange events begin to take place such as pictures flying off the wall and such like. For Nichole however, her return from the hospital is greeted with more worrying scenarios such as threatening messages scrawled in lipstick on the wall of the bathroom. Most concerning of all though is the fact that there seems to be a growing feeling that Ariana is behind all of this… albeit in some supernatural form.
Guys… guys… guys – why are we now putting quotes from IMDb users on the cover sleeve? Not critics, not the assembled film press, just random keyboard warriors who log in to IMDb. The maddening thing is that all these quotes all come from people who have only ever submitted one review… FOR THIS FILM!
Anyway, I have to admit that this a movie in which the cover art is sadly the best thing about it. There was initially an interesting premise, but with Ariana committing suicide in the first scene of the movie, it took away a lot of the depth from the character and expunged any sympathy. Apart from gleaning that she was a somewhat obsessive girlfriend, I do feel that her suicide is too soon in the narrative and the script could have done with more background into her relationship with Jason and her ups and downs within the modelling agency. I understand that hidden beneath the storyline is a damning indictment of the modelling industry just itching to get out, but sadly it never quite does instead remaining trapped in a b-grade horror with poor characterisation which moves at a laborious pace.
2 out of 10