MTV Geek LOVES Halloween — so we’ve decided to share our fave frightful movies, TV shows, comics, and books with you all month long!
With the crush of New York Comic Con on us, we missed a couple of days in what was intended to be a daily feature here at MTV Geek. By way of apology, I present to you today’s offering, 2007’s X-Cross, from Battle Royale II director Kenta Fukasaku. X-Cross (aka XX gives you two–count ’em two–horror stories in one, as two girls head out to an isolated hot spring only to find themselves threatened by two entirely separately murderous threats.
Aimed squarely at the teen girl set, this split narrative is nonetheless a clever homage to modern splatter horror with its own J-horror bent. Long-haired ghosts need not apply!
Following a breakup with her cheating boyfriend, shy Shiyori (Nao Matsushita, Chesuto) heads out to a secluded hot springs on the invitation of her friend, Aiko (pop singer Ami Suzuki), who could charitably considered a man-eater. The “resort” is really a collection of dilapidated, shadowy buildings, operated by the odd, shuffling staff of disheveled-looking men.
What should they make of the one-legged scarecrows in the area outside of the village? And why are the villagers so fixated on Shiyori’s leg? Is Aiko setting her up for some kind of terrible fate? Aiko has problems of her own: an eye patch-wearing girl in Gothic Lolita dress is holding a grudge and figures the only way to settle their issues is with a giant pair of super-sharp scissors. It all leads to an explosive showdown in the village center with an unstoppable, charred killer and a pile of chopped-off limbs.
Director Fukasaku has made his career out of garish, exploitative action and horror films for young people, completing Battle Royale II after his father Kinji’s death. While the sequel wasn’t as well-received as the original (in fairness, it’s pretty much hated in some corners), Fukasaku has kept working steadily throughout the decade, most notably on the Sukeban Deka update, 2006’s Yo-Yo Girl Cop.
X-Cross never reaches the levels of blood and guts violence of Fukasaku’s earlier output, but it’s smarter and funnier. While it’s easy enough to reference other films or genres, Fukasaku, working from a script by Death Note screenwriter Tetsuya Oishi, makes X-Cross about more than just its points of reference. The split narrative frames both stories as mysteries linked by imperfect communication and information for its two leads. Connected by their cell phones, Shiyori and Aiko have to contend with their suspicions that the each girl might not be looking out for the other’s best interests as they try to survive the night. At its core, it’s a movie about girlfriends and the script for X-Cross never forgets that–sure, it’s “about” crazy men trying to kill them (or worse), but the heart of the story is the Aiko and Shiyori.
If you’re interested in seeing X-Cross, a readily available DVD was released back in 2009 for the U.S. through Tokyo Shock. That disc was a serviceable presentation for the movie, but like most of Tokyo Shock’s output, don’t go looking for the best in picture quality. Still, I’m curious about their 2011 Blu-ray release of the film–if anyone’s checked it out, I’d be curious about what your thoughts on it are.