Ginger Nuts of Horror
by Alex Davis
Dir. Yukihiko Tsutsumi, Japan, 66 min
Ah, Japan. Where would extreme horror be without the weird and wonderful contributions from Japan? A vast amount of splatter cinema came out of the nation during the 80s especially, much of which was fairly missable, while more modern offerings of Audition, Ichi The Killer, Suicide Club, Red Room and many more have continued a proud tradition of extreme horror movies. And so we come to 2ldk, a movie I had never heard of before but the premise of which certainly sounded interesting. And I must say that this relatively short movie was a pleasant surprise.
2ldk follows the story of two actresses, Nozomi and Rana, who share a flat and are pretty much polar opposites. Rana is much more of a lively, social girl, while Nozomi is rather quieter, more studious and buttoned down. Rana also has a long history of succeeding in much she has done, leaving Nozomi feel somewhat inadequate in her shadow. But it turns out the two are about to be in direct competition for the same acting role, and their rivalry is about to explode in pretty spectacular fashion.
The early build in 2ldk is pretty steady, but that's one of its strengths. We get to know the characters pretty well in the present-day sense, and eventually get more into their backstories, especially Rana. The two actresses have a great chemistry, bouncing off each other well and really seem to inhabit their roles in a very organic way. One of the other wonderful things about this tense build is that we don't only heard the words they speak, but also have a lot of access to their thoughts. It has a certain element of black humour to it to hear one thing said and then another, much more unpleasant thing running through the mind of each character. The tension rises with a variety of smaller issues before we get to the real hard stuff, with both Nozomi and Rana needling and poking at ever more delicate and emotional areas.
From there, things get increasingly wild as the altercation goes from unkind words to a serious, full-on physical assault by each of the women. It's destructive, it's out there and it still retains a feel of dark humour all the way. It's certainly not the most extreme thing we've witnessed here at Film Gutter, but it does have some really great moments and there's a good feeling of polish and quality running all the way through. It's surprising to think this whole thing was shot in just eight days, with everyone working virtually through the night – one can't help but wonder if that contributes to the mood of tension that's practically palpable all the way through. Sometimes these quirks of how things are shot just feed in to the process, and for me this is a great example of this.
The film isn't perfect, and the ending for me was a bit of a bum note to close on. There are a couple of things that feel a little out of place or strange for the two girls to do, and as a slight jar to believability the two struggling actresses seem to live in an absolutely huge, lavishly appointed apartment. But I suppose I'm coming to a point of nitpicking because ultimately I really liked this movie – well worth a look if you can get a hold of it.
RATING: 8.5/10. 2ldk is a really interesting movie that blends horror and comedy pretty seamlessly, with a simple premise very well delivered by all involved. The lead performances are strong, the direction is good and the pace is tight and controlled. There are a few chuckles along the way as the characters' petty grievances start to take on a greater significance, although the comedy is of a pretty dark stripe. There are a few minor gripes along the way but there's an awful lot more to like than dislike. A very good entry into the Japanese horror canon that, for me, deserves to be much better-known than it is – very much worth your time, especially if horror-comedy is your thing. Well worth an 8.5/10.