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Case Number 15858: Small Claims Court

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Late Bloomer

Bone House Asia // 2004 // 83 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 6th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson was a late bloomer. His voice didn't change until last Friday.

The Charge

Don't ever accept the whole world. Just choose one person.

The Case

Sumida-san (Masakiyo Sumida) is severely disabled, but that doesn't keep him from trying to enjoy a normal life: hanging with friends, partying, and listening to punk rock by his pal Take's band. Life just got even better. When an attractive female college student volunteers to serve as his caregiver, it's instant fireworks. Sumida is smitten with the young lady. Unfortunately, so is Take and Sumida is almost instantly consumed by a raging jealousy. And so begins his murderous rampage.

Strange, but satisfying movie. Writer/director Go Shibata's twist on the deranged psychotic horror film brings something new to a genre that has seen everything. For that fact alone, I'd recommend Late Bloomer to your neighborhood jaded horror fan.

Be warned, though: it's pretty nuts. Shibata shoots the entire film in black and white, with a highly experimental shooting style. He mixes in flashbacks and visions within the traditional storytelling frame, making for an unsettling experience. If that's not your thing, stick with it; the dude knows how to get under your skin.

As distracting and mind-stabbing as Shibata's style can be, the result is unnerving, and not because of cheap jump scares or an over-dependence on bloodshed. It's the thematic material that's shocking. Essentially, Sumida, marginalized by society and unable to cope with the oppressive feelings of jealousy that arise when the object of his desire is taken from him, turns to murder. He's not one of those unstoppable slashers, but a guy who sneaks up on his prey, taking advantage of the fact their guard is down around someone with a disability. The gore is light, but when Shibata does let the blood fly—in a weird experimental way—it's jarring.

At the center of all this is Masakiyo Sumida who turns in a great effort. He's repellant in his actions, yet sympathetic in his situation. Sumida is only able to communicate through a computer (in real life, too) and his best friend is a bedridden friend who's also disabled. Their conversations are both compelling and heartbreaking.

The DVD: a simple, but crisp 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 2.0 stereo audio mix (Japanese, with English subtitles), supplemented with a brief intro from Shibata and interviews with the director and cast.

The Verdict

If you're after a horror film unlike anything you've ever seen—one that will leave you simultaneously weirded out, bewildered, and dismayed—give Late Bloomer a chance.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: Bone House Asia
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
• English
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Drama
• Foreign
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Director Intro
• Interviews


• IMDb

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