Sunday, July 12, 2009

Siren X (2008)

A very small film team consisting of three crew guys and one mini-skirted actress are working on a panty shot perv version of Monster Hunt for Japanese cable TV. Their show is called (I kid you not) "Miniskirt Adventures" (please imagine a woman lifting her skirt to show you her panties now - I am again not kidding). They come to a country lake to fake their way to the "truth" about the male campers who supposedly disappear there in droves.

It goes rather well for them in a panty-heavy way until an even heavier rain shower encourages the group to a bit of the traditional running through the woods in search of shelter. They come to a nice enough looking house, whose owner and only inhabitant is a young and quite attractive woman (Yuma Asami). She says that she's feeling lonely living so alone in the deep, dark woods and so invites them to stay the night, a proposal the guys in the team find all too enticing. They even decide to stay on after their actress (Yuria Hidaka) absconds on account of a lover's quarrel with the director.

Turns out that staying in a house in the woods that is only decorated in the colors white, red and cobalt blue isn't the best idea a man could have. The nice hostess turns out to be some sort of succubus, killing one of the men during sex to drink the sperm he has choked on. Yes, she magically transforms her victims' bodily fluids completely into sperm; welcome to Japan, children. The other two men flee. But as we all know, you can't escape your sexual death wish once it has been woken, and it does not take long until both men have terrifying and arousing visions of the woman calling them back.

Hideo Jojo's Siren X is one of the better examples of the rather small sub-genre of pinku horror films. Most of the ones I have seen are rather dubious achievements that don't bother to connect the sex and the horror much thematically, resulting in mediocre horror films with overlong sex scenes. Siren X is quite a bit more successful and even mostly works as a real erotic horror film, although it is too steeped in the mechanics of contemporary pink cinema and lacks the obsessiveness of a Jess Franco film to be a truly excellent one.

The acting may be mediocre and the script just a little bit too shallow, but Jojo's direction is quite accomplished. He does some fine, even somewhat disquieting things with frame composition that show an obvious Argento influence - although you have to keep in mind that the whole film has probably cost about as much as a single scene in an Argento film to see it. Jojo milks the strangely claustrophobic outdoor locations for all that they are worth and cleverly uses his color scheme to keep Yuma Asami the center of attention in non-nude scenes even though she can't act too well.

There's also a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor regarding the production of low-rent, low-budget entertainment that caters to the lowest common denominator, fortunately not realized through dishonest moral disgust, but with a knowing wink in the direction of the film's viewers.

Siren X's weakest points are its sex scenes. Instead of going all out and making the sex as weird and disturbing as possible, most of it is the same rote stuff you will find in any other pink film and disappointingly (especially in comparison with the rest of the film) just not all that interesting to look at. The sex does at least culminate in strange and unreal moments, but before those pink cinema has set four minutes of squeaking woman.

Well, until the final scene of the film shows us a shot nearly perfectly incorporating the mood the erotic part of erotic horror needs to work.


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