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Christmas Eve (Saiga Toshiro 2001)


Christmas Eve
[Kurisumasu Ebu]

Genre: Slasher Horror

review in one breath

Christmas Eve is a straight-to-video slasher horror with a rather bizarre twist. Director Saiga Toshiro, who does not have any other films on Western radar with the exception perhaps of Hogi Lala (2002) and whose most prominent work is likely the several Mahjong-themed videos he directed, employs a huge variety of cinematic techniques in iChristmas Evei undoubtedly in an attempt to make this a cool, MTV-styled horror piece. In addition to the often jarring camera techniques, Saiga throws in some rather bizarre temporal shifts which will undoubtedly keep the audience conceptually at work trying to figure out what the hell is going on in the storyline.

The title Christmas Eve derives from the fact that our characters' misadventure all takes place on Christmas Eve, a time which Japanese youth generally pair up in an attempt to create a romantic holiday for themselves. In our case, three couples have made plans to spend the holiday together in a remote mountain cabin, intending to enjoy a truly "White Christmas" (which Tokyo rarely, if ever offers), good food, a beautifully decorated (and requisite) "Christmas cake", and yes, romance. When our story begins, Kosaka (male) and Maruko (female) are already at the cabin and are hard at work decorating it, Kyoji (male) and Atsuko (female) are on their way there, driving up the slippery, winding mountain road, and Satoshi (male) and Tomomi (female) are somewhere on their way as well.

Our nubile lovers' plans start to go south when a large jeep comes careening down the dark mountainous road nearly hitting Kyoji's little sports car. When Kyoji and Atsuko arrive at the cabin, they find the place in utter shambles. With the electricity out and no phone service, the pair stumble around the dark house trying to discover what happened. As they do so, they discover the bloodied body of Kosaka who apparently died from multiple stab wounds, not to mention the large kitchen knife still protruding out of his mouth, through the back of his skull and into the wooden floor. A few terrified screams later and after a little further exploration they soon discovers a similarly sliced Maruko lying outside in the snow, apparently thrown from the second story window.

By the time they think things through, they realize that someone else is now in the house with them. That someone, they soon discover, is dressed in a black coat with a black hood and is carrying (another) very large knife. As the killer begins to chase Kyoji all over the place, it seems that he and Atsuko will soon meet their friends' fate, until, that is, Kyoji finds a large metal rod and begins to defend himself. The killer flees the house (for a while) and both Kyoji and Atsuko watch as that same large jeep drives away. When our two try to take this opportunity to make their getaway, they discover that the wiring of both their car and Kosaka's car has been completely destroyed. Faced with an impossibly long and cold walk back down the mountain and no other means to escape, they decide to wait until daylight in the house.

This, of course, is only the beginning of the bizarreness, as a terrified Satoshi soon shows up on foot followed soon thereafter by the jeep.

Throughout this adventure, Atsuko is clearly the most squeamish. She is also the one who seems to come into contact with the most blood. This apparently freaks her out enough to cause a gradual change in her mental state. Much of the camera technique employed by Saigi is used to depict Atsuko's increasingly deranged perception. And by the time we are in the thick of things, the temporal shifts will make the audience quite puzzled as to whether we are seeing Atsuko's hallucinations or actual events. Over the course of time, Atsuko finds herself wanting to increasingly touch puddles of blood or dead bodies. She seems fascinated by this aspect of mortality. But although the audience may be tempted to conclude that Atsuko is the killer through a case of split personalities gone berserk, such an explanation is impossible due to such things as the jeep and the appearance of the killer.

In the end, however, Atsuko's fascination with blood and the killer's specifically targeting Atsuko's friends precisely on Christmas Eve will indeed prove to be related in one of the strangest, laugh out loud explanations ever concocted in cinematic history! Holy Cow!

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Uh.. No. Not even a drop. (hee! Get it?) Several stabbings on the run. One knife in the mouth, through the skull and deep into the wooden floor. One difficult removal of knife stuck deeply in wooden floor, through skull and out the mouth. One single, loooong step out a second story window (followed by hitting the ground, of course). One beheading. One grinding of scissors' point *through* the hand. Four throats slit. One being hit by speeding car. One slow and obviously painful mutilation of lower extremities by large man-eating snowblower (!!!). One being dragged at high speed behind a jeep. One driving off cliff in a flaming automobile. One nude but dead beauty taking a milk bath. Got Milk???

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