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Film Review: Woman in the Box 2 (Hako no naka no onna II) (1988)

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SYNOPSIS:

The manager of a ski resort kidnaps women, subjects them to various forms of sexual degradation and keeps his victims in a wooden box in the basement

REVIEW:

Woman in the Box 2, also somewhat mystifyingly also known as Captured For Sex 4, is a thematical sequel to Nikkatsu studio’s 1985 film Woman in the Box: Virgin Sacrifice (Hako no naka no onna: shojo ikenie). Behind both films is the director Masaru Konuma, who allegedly was not quite happy with the direction the studio took with the first film and was later on given permission to direct his original script, which in turn resulted as Woman in the Box 2.  Both by all accounts are on the nastier side of the pink genre, containing rape and torture, but as such they are at least in good company, as between 1971 and 1988 Nikkatsu produced a countless number of similar titles, many of them also directed by Konuma.

The story follows a lonely ski resort manager who seems to have an eerily strong impact on all the ladies around him. He is not notably handsome nor even particularly pleasant person, but for some inexplicable reason every female guest who enters his chalet seems to be willing to do whatever he wants, including having sex right next to their passed-out husband.  In fact, even his own sister-in-law can’t resist his mystifying charms and quite literally throws herself at him (however, this is too much for our hero. Kidnapping, torture and rape are all ok, but sleeping with your sister-in-law is a bridge too far. Even monsters have morals after all). A large part of the film is taken up by him having sex with various women who happen to cross his path, leaving one wondering whether this infamous box is ever going to make its appearance. Rest assured, it does but I can’t in all honesty say that its presence makes the films any more interesting.

After a customer’s husband in fatally injured in a skiing accident, the devious manager decides to make his move and proceeds to rape and kidnap the woman, imprisoning her in a wooden box located in his own personal torture dungeon. Rest of the film’s 40 minute running time is taken up by various torture scenarios, including dunking the woman’s head under water, threatening her with a chainsaw and making her think she is going to fall to her death from an edge of a cliff. Well, that and more rape, which is very much the main theme of the film.

It’s somewhat lucky that the Japanese came up with the label “pink film”, encompassing pretty much anything with nudity in it, as I would find it very hard to try to define Woman in the Box by any Western film genre standards. It’s not horror and does not quite have enough of torture to even be labelled as “torture porn”. It’s missing the trademark whimsical nature of most sexploitation and feels too nasty to be filed under that category. The closest genre to it would perhaps be just straight up porn, as the focus is very heavily on the rather graphic sex and rape scenes. That would be if they were not censored with pixelated censor bars, giving the viewer very few thrills in that department either and making me return to the problem of classification.

Of course, one does not need to classify a film to be able to enjoy it and if you are a fan of the nastier side of pink cinema, you might just enjoy this piece. However, I would give word of warning about the distinct lack of plot or a single interesting character. I do fully understand that when most people seek out nudie films, it’s not for their sophisticated plotlines, but some resemblance of a story would at least be nice. Or at least a character you could root for. As it stands, you don’t even really care about the poor victim locked in her hellish box. You just kind of want it to end.

Having only seen a hand full of Pink films in the past, I can’t say that I have enough of reference point to state whether Woman in the Box is a good representative of its genre. On a personal level I found it a quite a tedious watch and even though I do enjoy sexploitation and sadoeroticism, I struggled to find anything likeable about this piece. It’s nasty and mean spirited and comes with not levity whatsoever. The sex scenes are repetitive and offer very little enjoyment. I am sure there is an audience out there for this, but I sure ain’t it.

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