When a girl is discovered dead at a dock, the local coroner, Yamazaki, soon realizes that her hair is still growing at an incredible rate. Yamazaki decides to take the body home with him and begins selling the girl's hair to local hair salons as hair extensions ('exte'). However, it soon becomes apparent that the hair has a life of its own, with deadly consequences.Written by
an unlikely but winning mix of (actual) creepy Japanese horror and domestic drama
Hair Extensions works much better than expected. I mean, seriously, how much horror can one expect to come out of something as simple as hair? But the hair in this film is possessed, you see. It comes out through parts of the body once it attach's itself inside the host body: the person gets hair through fingernails, shooting up like weeds in a garden, through eyeballs, through a mouth, everywhere. And in this film, one of Sion Sono's better works for mainstream consumption, it's real success comes that it's not simply about a maniac guy who uses demon hair to kill people (he also sells hair extensions that have the roots that have Grudge-type problems, yes hair can remember). No, it's also a domestic drama involving a woman who works at a salon (the adorable Chiaki Kuriyama) whose sister is an abusive B-word to her daughter, who is traumatized for life at the age of four.
For a little while (maybe the first 45 minutes) it's a wonder how these two stories, one with these people being killed by hair and this wacky guy in his home made out of hair-locks (and of course it's all lit in darks and greens), and the other with the salon girls and the drama with the sister and the daughter, will intersect. Once it does, the movie gears into being totally absorbing, and Sono is very creative with how he stages his horror set pieces. There aren't *that* many kills, at least not as many as one might expect from the director of Suicide Club. It's more about staging a setting and place, how it's lit, how the person in the shot moves about. It's not about jump scares, and it's not about some of the simpler modes that sometimes happen in "grudge" movies. In this film, a seemingly dead body can still f*** with the living.
The acting is also quite good, which is important as a lot of the film's drama rests on the sister and daughter and how Chiaki's character has to try hard just to reach out to the little girl (even more difficult after a particularly traumatic scene she sees, which we wisely only see some of before the big reveal). It's gory, which is to be expected, but I was amazed by the suspense that Sono was able to draw out of scenes, even in the climax which veers into over-the-top territory with its antagonist. Oh, and the movie is surprisingly funny to boot, mostly involving a cat who suddenly appears in scenes posed next to a statue outside at night (or just, you know, around), or how the villain sidles his way into the salon with his precious hair extensions. Only one moment that should be painfully obvious to anyone but isn't seen by the protagonist makes on do a face palm. The rest of the film is fun, effective and leaves an impression as art merged with genre.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this