Friday, January 22, 2010

REVIEW: All Night Long 2: Atrocity

オールナイトロング2 (Ooru naito rongu 2)

Released: 1995

Katsuya Matsumura

Masashi Endo
Ryoka Yuzuki
Shinobu Kojima
Masahito Takahashi

Takamitsu Okubo

Running time: 77 min.

Reviewed by Marc Saint-Cyr

A while back, I reviewed a little film called “All Night Long” that follows the same social-outcast-pushed-to-extremes pattern as “Taxi Driver” and “Falling Down,” but situated within the younger, Japanese demographic group. It had some alright moments, but was pretty much a disappointment overall. Now I’ve seen director Katsuya Matsumura’s follow-up, “All Night Long 2: Atrocity,” and…well, just read on.

“Atrocity” focuses on a completely different set of characters from its predecessor. Its plot trajectory is nearly identical to the first film, but instead of three tormented geeks, it follows only one: Shunichi (Masashi Endô), who is bullied by a gang of punks. Their leader is a tall, gentle-voiced individual with a taste for gay sex, sharp blades and burning things with his pocket blowtorch. Shunichi is tormented and blackmailed through most of the film, sometimes seeking solace by talking with an online user codenamed Good Man. Rather predictably, the assaults against him continue until he finally snaps and exacts his vengeance – and then some.

How do I begin to describe the offenses of this dismal effort? First of all, “Atrocity” makes only the faintest effort to provide any character development. With his round glasses and awkward demeanor, Shunichi is your typical, garden-variety nerd. Outside of his short online conversations with Good Man, the only vaguely substantial feature he possesses is an attachment to a figurine of a nude female anime character, which he lovingly assembles and paints, treating it as a precious fetish object. He eventually meets two other guys around his age who have also conversed with Good Man. They share a nicely-lit sequence with the three of them talking on a rusty jungle gym apparatus at sunset, a massive, fortress-like industrial plant occupying the background. Preceding a generic “happy” sequence in which they celebrate their new friendship with drinks, a lady friend and pop music on the soundtrack, it constitutes the only truly enjoyable moment in the entire film.

The rest of it is, simply, a mess. The aptly-named “Atrocity” is made up of one freakish display after another as the thugs abuse Shunichi and expose him to the tortures they deliver upon other helpless victims. While sex and violence are both featured often, there is never a sense that they are being used constructively or for any other reason than for their own sakes. Instead, they exist as cheap exploitation of only the most morbid kind, showcased in scenes of depraved, gratuitous brutality. One would-be lover has his ear severed for no rational reason, and the film’s only two women (being a drug-addled, half-starved rape victim and the unfortunate lady friend) are treated abominably, reduced to mere sex objects and subjected to an assortment of grotesque humiliations.

Shockingly, I’ve read a few positive reviews for “Atrocity” on the Internet Movie Database that name-drop the Marquis de Sade and Pasolini’s notorious “Salò.” While there may be some thematic similarities, I think that’s giving the film far more credit than it actually deserves. Highly tasteless and thoroughly unpleasant, it is like the first third of “A Clockwork Orange,” but with only the tiniest fraction of the style and absolutely none of the wit or relevance of Kubrick’s film. At least the first “All Night Long” spent a little time on story and character while its sequel doesn’t even bother with that much, leaving a nasty 77-minute spectacle of the gross, smeared with blood, shit, piss, vomit and trash. If you dare decide to give this one a watch, make sure you have something afterward to wash the terrible taste out of your mouth – and eyes and brain, for that matter.

Read more by Marc Saint-Cyr at his blog.

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