Brutal (2018) by Takashi Hirose

Director: Takashi Hirose
Year: 2018
Country: Japan
Alternate Titles: N/A
Genre: Serial Killer; Exploitation

Conducting a rampage of extreme prejudice, a savage killer targets women as he tries to find a compatible woman to engage his fantasies in, eventually catching the eye of a female serial killer who's just as sadistic as he is forcing them into a deadly and dangerous showdown.


Overall, this was an exceptionally enjoyable piece of exploitation sleaze. This is one of the strongest aspects of the film and is given to us immediately at the outset of the film, which is the exceptionally brutal and challenging murder scene of the killer targeting several victims and graphically tortures them in wholly demented fashion as his rants about his intentions go unheeded. It's unflinching mentality makes for a truly immersive experience the first thing you see in a film, and to see how he carries out his work cleaning up after himself in the bloodstained aftermath immediately afterward tells a lot about his psychotic nature. His second showcase, taking out the two girls in their apartment is even more savage and vicious as he engages in even more extreme and graphic fashion with the way he beats them around, providing the film's unquestioned graphic highlight.

That brutality is carried over and rightly topped by us following the woman around. Arguably going for a more brutal approach with her frenzied and relentless stabbing that's generally targeted at their private regions, the montage that opens her story offers us an even stronger glance at what to expect within here the focus on both disparate people come together is the focus here. The final confrontation that occurs, a full-on hard-hitting brawl with each other smashing objects, pummeling and cutting each other or stabbing the other, is an exceptionally tough and brutal sequence to get through as they lay into each with a rawness that's incredibly vicious and realistic long before it unveils the savage twist for their physical beings.

However, what really sells this one is the unique and decidedly unconventional approach this takes to providing a love story within the confines of a genre story. The sense of identity they both share, being of the opposite sex but clearly of the same mindset, the film provides the idea of two interconnected parts that should come together to make a whole with their broken psychological states generating a perverse setup for this storyline. The ending they share together is a macabre twist to the usual romance film, and with all the blood and viscera spilled throughout here beforehand there's a rather intriguing and wholly unique spin taken that's fun to see play out. This is all truly fun if not enough to overcome it's minor flaws.

The film's biggest issue is the fact that there's just so little info that the film simply feels short. While the idea is surprisingly effective in how it's realized, the lack of depth into each individual manages to somewhat undo the idea that each person is mentally deranged. There's something to be said for how two individuals come together, but the way it's handled here where they just come together as a stroke of luck rather than being drawn together due to one picking up the other to continue their individual rampages and then discovering what the other does for a living just comes off as a sloppy mechanism. As well as some questionable tactics designed to get a misguided attempt at nostalgia that's just distracting, there's not much else really wrong here.

Overview: *** 1/2/5
Despite a few minor flaws overall, this is an intriguing and wholly unique horror-film version of a romance story that's still exceptionally graphic and brutal. Give this a go if you're at all interested in this type of setup or looking for something extreme to come out that's rather outside the usual channels, while those who aren't into that should heed caution.