Introverted Shinichi spends his days carefully putting together a model of a female manga character. The rest of his time he spends communicating with someone called ‘Good Man’ on his computer, who tells him he is the chosen one and promises him good fortune. However while he might be the chosen one – chosen by a rich student and his gang to torture and abuse – this cannot be considered as good fortune. Further despite promising to leave him alone if he can come up with a large sum of money, the gang continue to terrorise him and gradually Shinichi transforms from victim into violator. While the gang get their just deserts, is Shinichi in fact a victim at all?
All Night Long 2: Atrocity is the second film in a series of six films (1992-2009), all directed by Katsuya Matsumura. Often compared to the low-budget Guinea Pig films (1985-1989), the series was similarly originally conceived and produced as direct-to-video. However rather than concentrate on adult male perversity as most of the Angel Guts series do, the All Night Long films focus primarily on youth violence and teenage alienation against the backdrop of a rapidly modernizing industrial Japan.
While ostensibly the film’s narrative seems to fit into the typical rape-revenge structure with the first part of the film detailing Shinichi’s abuse and the consequences of that abuse and the second part Shinichi’s revenge on his abusers, transforming from victim to vengeful violator, All Night Long 2: Atrocity is indeed more complicated than typical films associated with the genre. The crux of the matter is that Shinichi is not innocent/never was innocent and therefore cannot be said to undergo the typical transformation of the protagonist of the rape-revenge genre. In fact, Shinichi seems to take a sadistic delight in the activities of the group, and in particular, those of his main tormenter.
The opening scene makes Shinichi’s questionable character clear. His meticulous attention to the manga model that he is completing is somewhat perverse. The model doll has one leg higher than the other, and is closely positioned in a sexualised manner. Her features are modelled after a young prepubescent girl that he seems to be stalking. And this fact is rammed home, when Shinichi having killed the girl – towards the final act of the film – ties her ankles together with her red hair-ribbon. This is perhaps the worst act of violence that occurs in the film and indeed the most disturbing.
His tormentor – a rich bored student whose ennui is expressed through the way in which he sees other people as mere playthings for his gratification – fails to recognise the monster beneath the surface in Shinichi, or indeed that death comes in a variety of guises. His raison d’être which is to: ‘Live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse’, is subverted when Shinichi uses a blow torch to disfigure him during his rampage of violence towards the conclusion of the film.
The violence in All Night Long 2: Atrocity is brutal and visceral although in the ‘rape’ section of the film, it is the consequences of the violence that are shown rather than the violence itself. The group barge into Shinichi’s home while he has some friends (that he met on the internet, while communicating with ‘Good Man’) around, and take them back to the leader’s house in order to abuse the girl, and torture the two young men. While we see the beginning of the rape and the abuse of the girl, we do not see – thankfully enough – the actual violation itself, but rather the aftermath – blood and faeces stained sheets. Neither do we see the torture of one of the young men who becomes the plaything of a particularly vicious member of the group who likes to use a knife on his playthings – instead we see the tormentor’s bloody mouth and the tortured’s slashed face and body. It is only when Shinichi fights back and butchers the group that actual violence is shown. The film has an almost operatic quality, starting slowly before building up to a brutal and horrific climax.
While much of the violence happens off-camera, All Night Long 2: Atrocity is difficult to watch. Off-camera violence is often much more effective than actual violence itself –Haneke’s Funny Games (1997) is a demonstrative example of this – allowing the actual representation of violent acts themselves be the more horrific when they actually happen. I cannot say that I found watching it a pleasurable experience, or indeed that I particularly want to watch it again, but what I can say is that it is well worth seeing. There is no apparent misygonism which is refreshing for a genre built upon misygonism, and for a low-budget straight to video film, it is very well shot and composed. The characters are convincing, and the ennui of the young men might be disturbing, but provides a powerful critique of a masculinity formed on and through violence, as a direct consequence of an alienating, industrial society in which the young fail to see any future for themselves. The soundtrack is interesting, ranging from heavy rock music, to opera and minimalist music to build up tension. The visual references to art, including images of anatomical dissection and real-life atrocities which adorn the walls of the leader of the gang, raise the film from mere exploitation to something considerably more interesting. The dominant use of red and white, as both a visual and metaphorical contrast, reminded me in places of Argento’s Tenebrae (1982) as did the music used in flashback? sequences of Shinichi and his young victim.
We never discover who the ‘Good Man’ who promises Shinichi good fortune is, and indeed the film implicitly suggests that there are no ‘Good Men’, after all perhaps it is in fact Shinichi who is the true monster here (I did wonder whether Shinichi’s character was partly based upon that of the so-called Otaku murderer who sexually abused and murdered young girls in Tokyo between 1988 and 1980).
All Night Long 2: Atrocity (1995)