Saturday, April 10, 2010

REVIEW: All Night Long 3: The Final Chapter

オールナイトロング3 最終章 (Ooru naito rongu 3: Saishuu-shô)

Released: 1996

Katsuya Matsumura

Yuujin Kitagawa
Ryôka Yuzuki

Tomorowo Taguchi
Meika Seri
Mitsuzô Ishii

Running time: 85 minutes

Reviewed by Marc Saint-Cyr

I’ll freely admit that, when I sat down to watch “All Night Long 3: The Final Chapter,” my expectations were quite low. It was, after all, directed by Katsuya Matsumura, the same filmmaker who made its two revoltingly bad predecessors, both of which following the same simplistic formula involving young male social outcasts who are gradually and inevitably pushed to extreme behavior. Amusingly, I observed that, after this “final chapter,” Matsumura would go on to make three more installments in the franchise, indicating that there must have been something to be gained by repeating said story.

If that was indeed the case, then it was certainly not to the audience’s benefit. The film opens on several bags of garbage – an image most befitting the central theme (which I will discuss a little later). The camera rests on several flies stuck to a tattered strip of flypaper which are collected by Kikuo (Yuujin Kitagawa), Matsumura’s latest stereotypically nerdy, bespectacled antihero. He spends most of his time in his apartment, which contains a microscope, radio, humidifier, computer and several plants, one of which he feeds his insectile findings to. He receives a letter from his school warning him of expulsion which he tosses into his wastebasket. He works at a love hotel where he cleans up after couples who spend the night having sex. A female coworker shows him a vent where they spy on a regular customer who always arrives with a different woman. Kikuo begins rooting through and collecting the garbage of Hitomi (Ryôka Yuzuki), his pretty neighbor who works as a checkout girl at a grocery store. He soon becomes more and more detatched and obsessive, leading him to commit a series of increasingly macabre acts.

Once again, Matsumura places as his film’s protagonist an extremely unsympathetic character. Apart from not being very likeable, Kikuo is very much underwritten, has barely any dialogue and follows a predictable trajectory pretty much identical to those seen in the previous “All Night Long” films. He is essentially little more than a hollow figure through which Matsumura dives into a slew of repulsive scenes and situations. Early on, Kikuo watches as a young girl with a scarred leg is mercilessly bullied. One might initially assume that he relates to her in some way – that is, until he first blankly watches as she is tormented and abused before him, then later bullies her himself. There are many disgusting, stomach-churning sequences in which he goes through mounds of trash in his room, even going so far as to consume the lipstick-marked food he finds and stick a discarded toothbrush in his mouth as a baby would with a pacifier. At one point, he spots his hotel coworkers at a trash dump where they knock out a girl, rape her, urinate on her and knock her out again. Kikuo takes her back to his place, only to chain her to his bed, measure her various body parts (mainly her sex organs), torture her with a hair dryer, feed her maggots and watch her menstruate. The remainder of the film from there is little more than a slideshow of similarly ugly, sadistic acts and tired serial killer clichés, culminating in a typical gore-streaked finale.

“All Night Long 3” basically reiterates the dark, nihilistic message that the world is overrun with cruel, selfish people at the heart of the previous films, although from a somewhat interesting new angle. Kikuo, who obsessively sorts Hitomi’s rubbish and makes a creepily detailed computer archive of the women he spies on and measures, could be seen as an anthropologist focusing his studies on the icky artifacts that make up people’s garbage. Easily the most intriguing character in the film is Kawasaki (played by “Tetsuo the Iron Man” leading man and “Oh, My Buddha!” director Tomorowo Taguchi), a fellow forager who describes himself as a “Dust Hunter” and keeps a grotesque scrapbook of keepsakes arranged like a detailed dossier. He describes his activity of choice as an “intellectual imagination game” and utters what could be the film’s main message: “Trash is really much more charming than people.” However, his character is just one element in a film with so little depth and so much overly gratuitous and depraved sex and violence that the whole thing comes across as little more than cheap exploitation; a shameless freak show intended to parade the gross spectacle of low human behavior for shock value.

The previous two All Night Long films give you a good idea of what to expect for the third one. If over-the-top torture porn is your thing, then by all means dive right into “All Night Long 3: The Final Chapter.” But viewers with any ounce of good taste or self-respect would do well to steer clear from this unpleasant mess of a film.

Read more by Marc Saint-Cyr at his blog.

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