Friday, March 9, 2012

Psycho Shark

Psycho Shark (aka Jaws in Japan)
John Hijiri

Psycho Shark is a ‘slow burn’ film taken to a ridiculous extreme. It’s also one of those oddball movies, where there is virtually no reason at all to like it but somehow, inexplicably I found myself enjoying it. It’s more of a movie that you watch the people watching it, rather than the film itself. It makes for a good film to have playing in the background at a party, with people watching on and off until the bizarre and inexplicable final moment catches everyone by surprise; sharksploitation Japanese style.

Miki (Nonami Takizawa) and her friend Mai (Airi Nakajima) are young women on a beach vacation. It’s not the most well planned vacation; they aren’t sure the location of the hotel, or even where they are. They are even hitching a ride, which is always a bad idea in horror movies.  They meet a young man (Hisashi Izumi) who shows them a beach-side bungalow to stay in during their vacation. Mai almost immediately ditches her friend to go frolic on the beach, leaving Miki to take naps and watch TV.  Miki finds a video cassette under one of the beds, and watches it. The tape is the recording of three other girls on vacation. Between bouts of depression, endless naps and a shark related dream, Miki slowly begins to realize that the man who brought them here may have more in store for them then some pointless standing around on the beach.

In a lot of ways this film reminds me of Takashi Miike’s Audition (1999), the entire pace of the film is languid, whole scenes seem to stretch on forever with occasional jumps in time as we see what happened to the three girls who were there before.  Psycho Shark lulls you in at such a slow pace, I can see a lot of people being turned off by it. Eventually I found a point where it was hypnotic. Even if you’re only paying even a minimal amount of attention, you can guess the sinister plot that unfolding around the extremely clueless main characters. Which is kind of the genius of the movie, you can guess plot but I seriously doubt you’ll see the end coming.

The end is easily findable on Youtube and if you’re one of those tedious people who just has to see the ‘good parts’ of a movie or rushes to read a Wikipedia summary of a story so you know everything about it without having to experience it, go ahead.  But if you truly want to experience ‘Psycho Shark,’ slog through the first sixty-eight minutes to get to the glorious last two. One of my favorite things in cinema is be blind-sided by a moment of utter insanity.

The widescreen presentation of ‘Psycho Shark’ looks good, most of the cinematography isn’t notable unless you’re talking about bikinis and cleavage and then it’s fantastic. The acting is fine, depending on your tolerance for somewhat shrill girls splashing around in the water.

Shark fans might be disappointed in the lack of shark action, but weird cinema fans might want to give this one a shot. It’s not the easiest film to deal with but I think with a little effort... okay a lot of effort, it’s very rewarding.


  1. You can see a lot of people turned off by it? You did see a lot of people turned off by it.

    The damn thing should have been five minutes long - four and a half minutes of slow, boring, languid, whatever. Then, SHARK. The end.

    I'm still a little mad you made me sit through this whole thing. I'm a little mad at myself for sticking around.

    1. It's a shaggy shark story. The length is what makes the end work... well sort of work.