Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


X Gemu (X Game) (2006) Japan

Okay young children I'm getting on a very rickety soapbox for just a moment. On my wrist among my many bracelets I proudly sport a large black one with big purple letters that read MOSHER FREAK WEIRDO. It is not an insult. It is a source of pride and support of those who have been/are bullied for whatever reason. I don't care if you're LGBT, what your religion, color or Country is, what kind of music you listen to or what clothes you wear - it's your choice and your right to live peacefully with that as long as you let others live peacefully too.

The bracelet is in honor of a young girl in the UK who was beaten and eventually died because of the clothes she wore (I guess 'mosher' means something bad there). More and more people under 18 are losing their lives to suicide, and despite the downplay by officials and school principals and teachers wanting to keep their jobs I guess, one of the major causes is bullying. And it's not just this Country or the UK. Japan has one of the world's highest suicide rates, so this movie comes as no surprise. Okay, lecture over.

Hideaki is a typical Japanese college boy - trying to keep awake during classes, flirting with girls despite the attention of his long-suffering girlfriend Rikako. One lecture is about revenge against those who caused a grudge (the East is big on grudges) and how there have been urban legends of groups organized to carry out 'justice' to those who caused the grudges. After class, Hideaki gets a text telling him his 6th grade teacher has committed suicide. A scene had shown that the teacher was in a class of mannequins, a bloody 'X' burned into his face. He next is on the roof of a building with a red paper with 'Death Penalty' printed on it before he takes his plunge. Pretty good gore on this one, although he would not be near as intact as the movie showed him but oh well, good effort.

Hideaki can't understand it - they had just attended a reunion of the 6th grade and the teacher had seemed happy, he'd just married, all had seemed okay. I guess class reunions of this type are big too in the East 'cause this isn't the first movie I've seen where grade school kids got together years later. The teacher had gone off for more partying with two boys who were known as major bullies in grade school and he had gotten a picture of them. He notices in the background a shadow of a girl with long hair a trenchcoat and dark glasses. 

For some reason this freaks him out and he goes to his friend Tadashi's house to use his computer equipment. He keeps hitting the door bell but it doesn't work. Tadashi comes and they sharpen the picture - they believe it is the bullied girl Mariko, who's life was hell in the 6th grade and who disappeared. Scenes show more than typical bullying - this movie is kind of heavy-handed - things like telling her she's dirty and she stinks, shoving her in the closet with the cleaning supplies, making her sit on a bunch of tacks, the kind of cruel things kids think of. Hideaki remembers he tried to get the teacher to stop it but he said no, let them alone it will stop soon enough. One of the boys brags the teacher is afraid of his father and won't do anything.

So taking my horror movie worksheet (patent pending) I start outlining the movie because it becomes pretty rote from here - with a few little twists. Hideaki, another girl and the two biggest bullies are captured and find themselves in a classroom - to play X Game, the game the bullies devised in the 6th grade to torture Mariko. Have we guessed who Mariko really is my children? No? Ah c'mon,  I had that part pretty quick but... ok they start the torture - beginning with Hideaki. The 'games' are the same, just amplified. for 'Thumbtack On A Chair' instead of pouring a box of thumbtacks, a chair is presented with nails in the seat and back. They have only a couple of minutes to complete the 'punishment' or all must be 'punished'. One of the bullies hits Hideaki in the stomach and smashes him onto the chair. For the rest of the movie his back and rear are covered in blood - but not a single hole. Whoops.

And on it goes, with games involving adult versions of childhood horrors. Those who try to 'cheat' or force others to do anything are whisked away and burned with an 'X' brand, stomach, neck or face. And it continues - all except Hideaki now have at least one 'X' brand and because he doesn't, they are suspicious that he is part of the whole thing. Finally being desperate, they attack the two 'attendants' holding the cattle prods and escape, but not before one bully brutally beats in the skull of one of them - they say once a bully always a bully and I would hope that's not always true but...

On their way out they find a 'control room' and three of them attack the woman at the controls, believing her to be Mariko and hey, why not kill her, right? Hideaki still hangs back and sees as they bring her out that it is indeed his girlfriend Rikako - she had changed her looks and her name.

Now here's where the movie stops being about grudges, revenge and consequences and just gets preachy. The ending should be the four realizing their shortcomings and the end of the game. But no - they run into Tadashi and Hideaki realizes he had been one of the 'attendants'. In fact, although Mariko had helped, it had been Tadashi who set up the scenario. Why? His doorbell didn't work on purpose - they apparently played ding-dong-ditch with him as a kid one too many times and drove him crazy. Okay that's pushing it a bit far. 

Hideaki is made to remember that not only had he participated in an emotionally cruel part of the game, but to prevent himself from becoming the next victim, he had chosen Tadashi - so passively anyway he had been just like the other bullies. He is therefore put on top of a tall building with the red 'Death Penalty' note and is pushed by Tadashi - but not before he grabs his pantleg, making both plunge off the building. Somehow Tadashi hits first and Hideaki lands on him and lives. Umm, no. Sorry. Not even remotely possible.

But the movie drags on and we've gotten the message shoved down our throats until this movie is starting to bully US. Hideaki is in the hospital and visited by Rikako - should have been a nice scene of forgiveness, right? Apparently all the bullying has made her a cold blooded killing machine for the 'organization' who gets revenge for those with grudges. She slashes at him with a knife - in his mind I guess he believes he is ripped to pieces and dies of a heart attack (we're led to believe) because she didn't actually touch him.

The movie ends with the sight of three schoolgirls giggling about popsicles and how one girl looked like one and didn't she kill herself? The three are listed on the next revenge scenario and Mariko/Rikako checks in with her 'boss' for further instructions.

All right, that was over the top. I had the movie mapped out but the ending was so all over the place that there really was no need and no way to feel any kind of vindication for the ones bullied. They tried and failed with this one. But the film was a decent one and worth a look. And be nice to each other, okay?