Before I sat down to pen this late-night review of writer/director Daisuke Yamanouchi’s nauseating Japanese torture flick Red Room 2, I was forced to pay a quick visit to the write-up I’d concocted about the first entry early last year. Not surprisingly, my thoughts and feelings regarding this admittedly unnecessary sequel is pretty much exactly the same, albeit for a completely different set of stomach-churning reasons. And, yes, I do still feel more than a wee bit guilty for spending roughly 80 minutes of my unadventurous life watching a sad collection of individuals humiliate one another for a few million yen. What that says about my mental well-being probably isn’t too good.
The setup for Red Room 2 hasn’t changed much since last time: Four pathetic individuals, each acting on their own free will, play an extremely twisted game entitled “King” inside a room illuminated by cherry red light bulbs. After each seedy contestant has taken a seat at a cheap all-purpose table, four crude playing cards are dealt, one for each player. The lucky boy or girl holding the card marked with a black crown gets to order the others around; think “truth or dare” without the option to cough up an embarrassing anecdote regarding your masturbatory habits. The poor bastard who loses the round is usually covered in blood and gore and screaming bloody murder, especially once things get a bit personal between the combatants.
To help you sympathize with the four distinct masochists involved in this shady competition, Yamanouchi employs the use of flashbacks to flesh out moments that appear earlier in the film. The technique works well in this particular scenario, as it gives the viewer a moment to catch their breath in-between some truly unsettling scenes of graphic violence. None of these participants are particularly interesting, mind you, but this shallow attempt at characterization does help create substantial unease whenever one of them meets their respectively messy demise. And I do mean messy.
Red Room 2 isn’t going to impress anyone who has grown extremely tired of that infamous subgenre known in certain circles as “torture porn.” There are moments of such morbidly outrageous depravity that even yours truly thought about nudging the fast forward button for a second or two. After all, watching anybody slurp down an enormous bowl of “homemade bile soup” isn’t exactly what I’d call entertainment. My feeble attempt to look away from the screen during the consumption of this horribly chunky solution was thwarted by the picture’s outrageously overblown sound design. If you’re the proud owner of an expensive home theater, prepare yourself for the nastiest slurps, slaps, and splatters you’ve ever encountered. It’s just as putrid as the one found in the original Red Room, if not worse.
In addition to the content detailed above, you’ll also receive one painful nasal penetration using a common household object, one standard rape, one so-called “reverse rape,” and the most shocking on-screen abortion I’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s seriously discomforting. What’s alarming about these sexually perverse atrocities is the mean-spirited nature in which they’re presented. Each and every act is cold and brutal, stark and vicious. However, the nastiness presented here isn’t nearly as gory as other productions of this nature, but what it lacks in guts and grue it certainly makes up for in unabashed cruelty. Depending on what you’re looking for, that might be a bad thing.
There’s really not much one can say about Red Room 2 — you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. It’s simple, it’s bloody, it’s competently directed, and it’s ugly, a winning combination for die hard fans of Japanese exploitation. Truthfully, it’s hard to completely despise a film that opens with a sloppy cum shot and ends with a guy buying a robot. You may feel guilty once you realize that it’s not as terrible as your knee-jerk reaction suggests, but this sensation should pass within a few short hours. There’s definitely an audience out there for this sort of degenerate, amoral material, so I’m sure Unearthed’s snappy DVD release will not be in vain.
Sometimes it’s good to be a sicko.