I’ve been on a Sion Sono kick lately and wanted to watch another one of his films that I had let slide through the cracks. It’s more lighthearted and not as disturbing as his other films. The plot is in the B horror movie tradition and centers around a dead girl’s cursed hair. But there’s also the parallel storyline of hairdresser Yuko and the cute Mami-chan. Although, the hair is lovely and very enchanting, the hair is cursed by an evil spirit. The vengeful force bedevils anyone who wears them by manipulating the hair follicles in every part of the human body. Say what you will about the quality of recent Japanese horror flicks, but if there’s one director who stands out in Asian horror business it’s Sion Sono.
I have to admit, this movie about haunted hair extensions is a first for me, but from the beginning, Sion Sono was a director who failed to fit the specific horror mold. If you you’re a fan of J-horror or like Sion Sono or Takashi Miike’s films then you should definitely check it out, this is something you haven’t seen before. The scenes in Osugi’s room are marvelous, making excellent use of lighting and hair effects to create shots that linger on the eyes. There are several stories running at the same time, all separate and connected in their own way, but blended masterfully.
The film remains a strange mix of elements. In the beginning it looks like a simple parody on the J-Horror genre, but after a while other elements creep in which make the film more disturbing than it should have been on first sight. For instance, the worst part about the movie was the realistic child abuse. Miku Sato is so convincing with her role as Mami that the audience would definitely feel her ordeal. Mami is a child very afraid, and Sato gives her character a lot of life, the child actress bears her soul to portray her character. It also doesn’t hurt that the production values are very high. A must see for fans of the burlesque and horrible.
There’s no real ghost girl in Exte, but there does happen to be a whole lot of hair that’s gone on a killing rampage. Sion Sono has also mixed in some elements of torture porn in here, but nothing too excessive. In my opinion, Exte is some sort of an homage and at the same time a critique, that most horror flicks tend to be very superficial and are not trying to imply more than pure scare tactics. The imagery of long creeping black hair is really unnerving, and i think it could have been put to much better use. That aside, this is a solid horror film and one of the better ones I have seen lately. It isn’t a masterpiece and if you think about it long enough, the premise is quite stupid. However, the ways of hair torture are on display as Sono manipulates our senses with visual manipulation that borders on being absurdly twisted and at times jaw dropping.