It takes a pretty bold film to compare itself to the works of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch as “Tokyo Psycho” does in its DVD summary. As expected, the movie doesn’t even come close to the quality of those legends.
“Tokyo Psycho” is supposedly based on a true story, which is always a great marketing ploy. However, I would guess that this has as much to do with the real life events as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” has to do with Ed Gein.
“Tokyo Psycho” tells the story of a somewhat shy woman who works at a cheap design company and is being stalked by an old schoolmate. Sachiko Kokubo plays our heroine here and is actually quite good. She plays the character straight, with believable emotion and subtle mannerisms. This makes her kind of a fish out of water as the rest of the film is populated by over the top cartoonish characters. Her best friend and co-worker is entirely too bubbly and cute, her boss is overly chauvinistic, and the villain is comically maniacal.
Masashi Tanaguchi plays the obsessive stalker as if he’s never heard the word subtle before. When his true nature is finally revealed he cranks the insanity lever to maximum and tries to be as bat s**t crazy as he possibly can. His nonstop mad scientist laughter and shrill screaming is far from scary and, even worse, entirely unbelievable.
The movie moves at a fairly slow pace which makes its short 79 minutes seem much longer. I was hoping that this slow buildup was deliberate and I would be rewarded with a shocking and satisfying conclusion as in Takashi Miike’s “Audition” but, alas, this was not to be. The final confrontation lacks any real emotional pay off, mostly due to Tanaguchi’s over acting, and the epilogue is completely insufficient for tying up a woefully underdeveloped subplot involving an abused little girl.
All this being said, the movie is not entirely unwatchable. The plot is very straightforward and thankfully missing the nonsensical plot twists that pop up in many Asian horror flicks, there are some decent performances, and a few of the horror setups are actually effective. Just don’t expect too much.