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FrightFest 2014: R100 Review

R100Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto.

Cast: Nao Omori, Lindsay Hayward, Mao Daichi, Hairi Katagiri, Gin Maeda.

Certificate: 18.

Running Time: 100 minutes.

Synopsis: Bored with his life and struggling to come to grips with his wife being comatose, a department store assistant enrolls with a perculiar bondage club that agree to strike when he least expects it. However, it seems as though the acts are getting increasingly out of hand.

R100 comes fresh from the mind of the mad genius behind BIG MAN JAPAN. Needless to say, it is absolute insane cinema. Japan is often home to the weird and the strange, and this is one of those films where the surrealness is just shrugged off as an everyday occurrence. It’s protagonist Katayama’s (Omori) need to break into a new world that propels the film along, and we are left as perplexed bystanders. Thankfully, we’re also left in hysterics.

A lot of the humour from R100 comes from a nervous sense of trying to fathom how anyone could come up with such ideas.  Katayma is visited by different dominatrixes throughout the film. One merely slams every portion of sushi Katayama orders, forcing him to pick up the squashed pieces with his hands, while the more vile and unhinged are known as Queens. These include Queen of Voices, who can mimic any voice, Queen of Saliva, who likes to spit, and Queen of Gobbling, and for her talents I suggest you watch the film. The early acts are rather repetitive, with a mundane part of life suddenly interrupted with quick bursts of violence. This repetition is key though, as R100 builds momentum to a crackpot finale.

As the weirdness builds, the film takes on a postmodern edge by suddenly cutting to producers of the film attempting to understand the plot. These little cutaways are fantastic in their wit, and often voice what the audience should be thinking at the time, although you’ve probably been swept up with the madness of it all. Later in the film, characters are interviewed in a mockumentary style, which adds a strange warmth to the mysterious bondage organisation from earlier.

The repetition is also accentuated by great choices in music and editing. One laugh out loud sequence is cut like an amateurish music video, and we’re also treated to a visual representation of the music in a bizarre climax. On the visual side of things, the film takes on a professional and serious look with washed out colours, that ironically exaggerates the cartoonish nature.

Handling ideas and themes of pleasure vs. pain, and the need for escape from our everyday lives, there’s a real depth to this madcap caper, but as one PA nites in the film, the director only intends for you to understand when you reach 100. That may seem like an awful long time to wait, but I can’t imagine anybody getting bored with a film that starts off with a lady inexplicably kicking a man in the head, and ending with a full on assault of elite bondage girls against a case of grenades.

Cruel and sick, but never losing its sense of humour or surprising charm, R100 is a slice of unique cinema. Its unsettling tone allows in waves of unexpected and irreverent humour, delivered by a cast who play it straight rather than mugging for the camera. A beautiful creation of weird nonsense and genuine heart.


Check Out More From London’s FrightFest Right Here!

Luke likes many things, films and penguins being among them. He's loved films since the age of 9, when STARGATE and BATMAN FOREVER changed the landscape of modern cinema as we know it. His love of film extends to all aspects of his life, with trips abroad being planned around film locations and only buying products featured in Will Smith movies. His favourite films include SEVEN SAMURAI, PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, IN BRUGES, LONE STAR, GODZILLA, and a thousand others.

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