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Film Review: Weekend (2012)



Miki spends much of her time on her blog, which has attracted many followers. She receives an email from a mysterious stranger called Jack, and subsequently bumps into him on the street. Over coffee, Jack convinces Miki to allow his burgeoning cosmetics company to advertise on her blog, in exchange for a monthly payment. He invites her to a house out in the country for a photo shoot, and by the end of the night they have fallen for each other. The next day, however, Miki is set upon by a couple of thugs, who rape her and film their exploits. When she finds out why they are doing this to her, she realizes that if she doesn’t manage to escape, she will meet the same grisly fate as other girls who have recently gone missing in the area.


 Weekend has found an American release as one of the films on Troma Entertainment’s second Japanese rape/revenge double feature, under the banner “From Asia with Lust”. It stays firmly within the territory established by Volume 1, which contained Ainosuke Shibata’s Hitch-Hike and Camp. Shibata returns as producer, editor and director of action sequences, but the material and its treatment is indistinguishable from his directorial efforts.

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The real star of Weekend, of course, is gorgeous adult film actress Miyuki Yokoyama, who plays the lead in all four of the “From Asia with Lust” films. The rape/revenge framework is self-explanatory; a beautiful, mousy young woman is viciously abused by a group of sadistic men, until the tables are eventually turned and, one by one, she sends them all to meet their maker.

So, over a thankfully scant 71 minutes, we are treated to Yokoyama’s typical introduction as an attractive wallflower, who is placed in a situation which feels like a dream come true – only to find out that it’s all a sham, and there are a bunch of grubby, half-crazed cretins balls-deep in her to prove it. When the third act kicks in, one guy gets the expected blow job with teeth, another is burned alive, while a third gets a sickle in the tackle.

The violence is fairly tame up to that point, and the menu is familiar: the suffering and humiliation of the female victim is considerably drawn out, but when the helpless damsel pops an empowerment pill, the scenes of violence toward her male aggressors are comparatively brief. The men, of course, tend to derive an obvious pleasure from their own savagery; in addition to repeatedly raping Miki, they force her to eat dog food and dress up in fetish outfits – which is kind of redundant, as Yokoyama would look ravishing in a potato sack.

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The incorporation of the element of snuff makes the material slightly edgier, but raises expectations the film doesn’t meet. When it’s time for “the main event”, and the men emerge clothed in plastic with a similarly protected camera, the moment should be chilling – but the scene doesn’t play out with any menace. It’s all too restrained and too familiar, as if the filmmakers thought that connecting the dots alone would add up to a satisfying viewing experience.

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As with Hitch-Hike, supposedly a loose remake of the 1977 film starring David Hess, Weekend bears similarities to the Canadian exploitation flick Death Weekend (1976); perhaps Yokoyama’s benefactors are intentionally revisiting the grindhouse for inspiration. The no-frills, el cheapo approach, right down to the crappy background music, does the films no favors. At least the action usually takes place against the idyllic backdrop of the Japanese countryside; perhaps a more appropriate title for Troma’s series could have been I Spit on Your Sushi.

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