Anybody who has had the pleasure of watching Takashi Shimizu’s masterly 2002 movie, Ju-On: The Grudge, will know that the Japanese are experts in delivering some terrifying horror films.
And Japan has delivered plenty of truly weird horror movies like 2010’s Kokuhaku and the recent Only Lovers Left Alive. But one of the more unusual horror films that has come out of the Far East has to be the deeply odd Bingo.
This 2012 film was based upon a novel by Yusuke Yamada, and it presents a dystopian future where prisoners must find out their punishments according to the gameplay of a massive game of bingo.
So we are presented with a fairly surreal sight of 25 prisoners who are assembled into a room and made to squat on a bingo grid as the victim’s families get to play to see who will be punished next.
Obviously this generates ample doses of hysteria amongst the prisoners, and it’s weird to see how the fairly benign game of bingo is used to create a movie that is gruesome and oddly amusing in equal measures!
The action focuses on Kazuki Shimizu who plays the prisoner, Masaya, who has to wait in the spooky bingo hall until his unlucky number gets chosen. And overlooking the proceedings is Mayumi – expertly played by Sakiko Matsui – who is one of the staff members who ensures that the families get to exact their revenge upon the prisoners.
Whilst this might sound like a fairly threadbare plotline, it’s thanks to the skill of director, Yohei Fukuda, that things manage to sustain an impressive level of tension throughout. The director has already given us the charmingly-titled The Slit-Mouthed Woman 0: The Beginning, and it seems that Bingo is another valuable addition to his horror canon.
Interestingly, Fukada has already managed to combine horror with gaming before. His 2010 release, X Game, saw a classroom full of children subjected to some brutal games that included the likes of Thumbtack on a Chair, Pencil Guillotine, and the self-explanatory Death Penalty.
Although X Game didn’t manage to achieve a similar level of infamy to that other Japanese school-horror flick, Battle Royale, it seems that Yohei Fukuda is becoming a name to watch for anyone interested in terrifying movies from the Far East.
And it shows that Fukuda isn’t above trying out some crazy new ideas for his horror movies. The concept of using bingo for a horror movie might strike many people as a little odd, but the game is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment. And with more online players than ever looking to find new sites for this classic game, it seems as though Fukuda’s horror movie is more timely than ever.
Not that Fukuda is going to be resting on his laurels, as he recently served up the deeply disturbing Death Forest 5 that shows that there’s plenty more Japanese horror weirdness to come!