X: X-Cross (2007)

Home ♠ Letterboxd

Last Hubrisween I ran out of Xtro movies and had to resort to the Blank Scrabble Tile rule and substitute a movie with a number for X (The 7th Victim, if you’re too lazy to search). Then, while casting my nets wider for this year’s movies, I came upon this entry from Japan. How fortuitous!

Shiyori (Nao Matsushita) and Aiko (Ami Suzuki) are headed to a remote hot springs spa to get away from it all. Shiyori is trying to get over a bad breakup with her first love, Asimiya (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi). The two girls couldn’t be more dissimilar, typified by their cell phones: Shiyori’s is plain and unadorned, Aiko’s is blinged out to the max and probably weighs five pounds from the excess decoration.

I use this distinction as we will find cell phones are central to the story.

Ashikari village is at the top of a mountain; the cabins for the patrons are quite nice, but the villagers all seem to be various forms of twisted and vaguely sinister. Some friction grows between the two girls – the free-wheeling Aiko with her many lovers versus Shiyori’s mourning for her sole, unfaithful boyfriend. The two separate, and as you might suppose, this is where the trouble truly begins (particularly since Aiko calls someone on that sparkly phone to report that everything is “going as scheduled”).

Shiyori finds a phone in the closet of their cabin and answers a call from the brother of the phone’s previous owner, whose fate we saw in the film’s opening. The brother (Nozomu Iwao) fills us in on the necessary backstory. Ashikari has a dark history, a logging village that in olden times went to the hideous extreme of chopping off their wives’ left leg to keep them from running away while they were at work; this mania soon extended to any traveling women unlucky enough to wander into the area. Ashikari is now home to a full-blown cult that lures in women with the hot springs, cuts off their leg, then worships their mummified remains as goddesses. They also cut the tendons in their own left legs, which makes running after the escaping Shiyori a bit ungainly.

So this sounds rather like an Asian version of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and it might have turned out that way, but there are various twists with the modern technology of cell phones that add layers of paranoia and doubt to what might have been a simple chase movie. Also, Aoki is having problems of her own: the jilted girlfriend of one of her former lovers, Reika (Ayuko Iwane), dressed like a goth Lolita from hell, has tracked her there and is determined to murder her with scissors, which adds an entirely different kind of weirdness and tension to the story.

The director is Kenta Fukusaku, and that last name should be familiar to you: his father was Kinji Fukusaku, a towering presence in Japanese cinema, from The Yakuza Papers movies to The Green Slime to Tora! Tora! Tora! to Battle Royale. Kenta wrote the screenplay to that one, and took over the directoral reins on the sequel when his father passed away (the sequel is, shall we say, not loved). His career since has been rather speckled; X-Cross was preceded by a Sukeban Deka movie and followed by a string of movies that hover around the 6.5 stars rating on IMDb, when they have a rating at all. He hasn’t had his breakout hit on these shores yet, and that’s a pity, because I really enjoyed X-Cross.

Though it doesn’t reach true Christopher Nolan levels, Fukusaku does mess with the timeline to show us what is happening in the parallel stories of our two stars, literally rewinding the footage to show us where we are, event-wise, even providing a couple of laughs along the way. The best part for me is when odd details in one girl’s sequence are explained in the other girl’s flashback, so I guess I should have invoked Tarantino rather than Nolan.

Generally I liked X-Cross not because it transcends its genre – it doesn’t – but because just when I think I have it figured it makes me say things like, “Holy shit, where did that crazy Reika get a five-foot pair of scissors?”

Buy X-Cross on Amazon

 

Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.