It’s a red Christmas here at HH, and for this week’s feature I managed to find what is quite possibly the only yuletide horror movie in all of Japan. From the third installment in the Horror Theater series comes The Present. This forty-five minute short film, directed by Yudai Yamaguchi (Meatball Machine, Deadball), is a fairly standard take on the horror formula: kids party, kids have sex, kids get brutally murdered one by one. The effects are decent but the movie suffers from mediocrity; this one can be a bit gruesome in parts, but it’s certainly not enough to shock veterans of the genre.
Sadly, none at all. A shame too, given the attractive cast.
Quite a lot of dismemberment and blood. Santa’s got a thing for organ harvesting too, so expect to see some guts.
Low. The actor plays the part well enough, but what can I say — an expressionless fat guy in a red coat just doesn’t really scream “terrifying” to me.
Our story opens with a sweet little girl, Yuko, waking after a terrible nightmare. It’s Christmas Eve, and while her parents comfort her, they ominously tell her that she’s a good girl, which is great, because if you’re bad, Santa will get you. Which some of you might say hey, I recognize this – it’s the story of Krampus, right? A freakish demon murdering people on Christmas? Sounds promising, right?
Nope, no mention of Krampus in this film. No, it’s the rosy-cheeked St. Nick who does both jobs in this movie. Also I don’t think Krampus had a murder basement where he scooped out people’s insides. Or put funny hats on the corpses afterwards.
Shit, even if I was a “good” kid I wouldn’t want this psycho anywhere near me.
We skip ahead to see a now grown Yuko planning a night out (again, Christmas Eve) with friends. She hooks up with her crush Ryosuke and the two do a bunch of shy, awkward smiling (aka, Japanese foreplay) before the group decides to move the party to a local hotel. There, Yuko starts bugging out, seeing signs of that old nightmare which plagued her as a child. Nevertheless, she doesn’t let it stop her from getting her freak on. She and Prince Charming wake up Christmas morning to the sounds of death, and what follows is predictable: they run, they’re captured, they die. Oh, and Ryosuke stops to puke in every other scene.
Also, he’s really good at hiding behind the girls. Can’t imagine why this stud didn’t make it to the end of the film.
Yuko is obviously the last woman standing, as she’s chased down by Santa and cornered in the end. Championed earlier in the film for her “pureness,” we get the reveal: Yuko was never pure at all! Nope, her seduction of Ryosuke was carefully planned from the beginning. Because remember ladies, if you want and pursue sex, it means you’re a “bad girl.”
And then Santa will rip your arms and legs off. Which, let’s face it, is still better than what they tell you in Catholic school.
Santa “kills” her and then oops – it was all a dream. Or a dream within a dream. Or something. The ending is a little messy, both figuratively and metaphorically.
“Damn. Maggots in the jam again.”
The effects aren’t bad, but I feel the director relied too much on low lighting in some of the gorier scenes, most likely to cover up the fake look of some of the body parts (which is evident in some of the close-up shots). Still, the gore is the most enjoyable part of this film, next to the wooden acting and uninspired plot. I do enjoy a good slasher flick, regardless of how formulaic the story may be; however if you’re going to do something that’s been done so many times, you have to spice it up with something fun, like say, creative death scenes for instance. This movie just plodded along with some payoff in that department, but not much. After the second or third leg was torn off, I found myself bored.
The cat was also unimpressed.
Fans of director Yamaguchi may want to check this one out; it’s not his best work, but again, it’s not terrible either. There are a couple of scenes I found funny as well, though to be honest it’s hard to say whether they were intentional or not. The film also features seasoned actor Takamasa Suga, whom some of you may remember as suave businessman Nosaka from Dead Sushi. As for everyone else: skip it. You’re better off spending your time watching Versus again.
Score: 6/10, not bad, but finding this one under the tree would be a disappointment
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Categories: asian horror