Oni-Gokko

Two women play a bloody game of tag in an old home uncovering a dark secret.

This eight-minute short really had some potential. The back of a female, smeared in blood, slowly moves away from our point of view. A hand reaches up and writes the Japanese character for “Tag” in the blood caked lower-lumbar. A blurry spectre of a face comes into frame and says, “You’re it.”

The next scene is equally unsettling involving Miki (Eri Akita) walking down a darkened flight of stairs with each step, Aki (Mariko Myamitsu) slices at Miki’s ankles with a razor with each step. We discover that Aki is more than just a playmate. This is no surprise as her pale face and darkened eyes scream “The Grudge” indicating that she is less than material. Okay, so far so good.

“The two wash away the blood in long, loving shots of diluted blood sheeting off of flesh down into the drain…”

Then the revelation happens. The twist that puts things into greater clarity. Yet, this happens not a third of the way in, removing all possibility of stretching the uncomfortable atmosphere further. No, we get an explanation of a dark secret, then the rest of the short depicts the two in a tiled shower bath combo complete with loosely art directed bottles of shampoo askance in the window above behind them. The two wash away the blood in long, loving shots of diluted blood sheeting off of flesh down into the drain. Yes, there is a metaphor here. But for 4 minutes???

Shane Ryan’s Oni-Gokko had some wonderful potential that was, sadly, abandoned in favor of literal cleanliness. The opening scenes built up such a sense of dread, only to spill the beans way too early and leave us with a drawn-out symbolism. Mr. Ryan’ get rid of the last two-thirds of the film and come up with more scenes like the first two. Those were stellar. The rest? Well, I mean at least the tiling was nice in the shower.

ONI-GOKKO (2018) Written and directed by Shane Ryan. Starring Eri Akita, Mariko Myamitsu.

4 out of 10

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