Eye For Film >> Movies >> Living Hell (2000) Film Review
Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown
An elderly woman, Mami, and her grand-daughter, Chiyu, butcher the other members of their family. Deemed senile, Mami is committed to an asylum, while Chiyu vanishes.
A year later, Ken, Yuki and wheelchair user Yasu are none too pleased when their father announces that some distant relatives are coming to stay...
Meanwhile a journalist, Mitsu, discovers that Mami has vanished and persuades his editor to let him investigate the case, uncovering a story of medical experimentation, perversion and sadism.
The idea of a Japanese hybrid of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Italian giallo is an interesting one. But where TCM favours a realistic, pseudo-documentary style, gialli tend towards the hyper-realistic, stylised and obviously artificial. Thus, any attempt to combine them - especially one coming from a filmmaker culturally at quite a remove from either - was probably doomed to failure.
As an exercise in the techniques common to the giallo - subjective camera, distorted perspectives and crazy camera angles, chiaroscuro lighting, emphatic scoring and sound effects, convoluted, implausible plotting and exaggerated performances - Living Hell works. But, when it attempts to combine these with social critique - albeit at the level of "the family that slays together stays together" - it doesn't.
A few effective moments early on aside, Living Hell quickly becomes tiresome viewing.
Horrifying - but mostly for the wrong reasons.Reviewed on: 29 Mar 2002