Hanadama AKA Hana-Dama: The Origins (2014)

director: Hisayasu Satô
release-year: 2014
genres: horror, sexploitation
countries: Japan
languages: Japanese
fests: Sexploitation Horror Fest (2022)

Abstract, supernatural Japanese sexpoloitation horror about some school children being victimized by bullies.

Supernatural cardboard.

It starts off in a Japanese classroom, in some non-Tokyo mid-sized town, where the teacher is adjusting her breasts indiscreetly, one kid is drawing breasts, and one is taking upskirt photos.

Breasts, in pencil.

The protagonist is locked in a locker. Some pee runs out of the bottom of the locker. The class motto is "Be Nice, Don't Bully", so unsurprisingly they are all bullies.

Big bad bullies.

Except one, Kirie, who awkwardly follows Mizuki, the protagonist, home after school. Kirie forces her into an unwanted friendship, and introduces her to a boy. They drink "tropical fruit milk."

Tropical fruit milk.

Mizuki stubs cigarettes out on her thighs to deal with stress. It cuts to a throbbing, bloody, brain-like thing with a hole as she does this, and then cuts to a spiked flower. These show up every time something particularly emotionally painful happens.

Brain hole.

Mizuki's mother is very concerned about the neighbors, and paranoid that they're conspiring against her. She seems to have a lot of trouble getting the trash people to take their trash bags. She yells, "I'm going insane!", so at least there's no confusion. She's a pretty shallow caricature of the frustrated mother losing her grip on reality.

Mom has a breakdown.

The plot develops extremely slowly, repeating the same minimal character development several times: the girls are bullied, the mom is crazy, Mizuki had an abortion. Rinse and repeat. Some movies on bullying, like Låt den rätte komma in, use repetition as an effective method to build the suspense. This film does not.

Watering the garden.

Most scenes are shot indoors in broad daylight, with the windows in the background blown out to solid white. There is no background music, except during abstract throbbing brain scenes, so much of the film is silent with just the sounds of footsteps and scraping fabric. It has a very amateur feeling, though the actual framing and scene transitions are decent.

More bullying.

The mother's insanity does provide a nice opportunity to introduce some comedic elements. The mother and father speak to each other across the tiny kitchen table using a cup-and-string telephone. That is mildly entertaining, which is as entertaining as it gets.

Healthy family communication.

It escalates weirdly, as the students anally rape Mizuki with the handle of a knife, and then, for some reason not really fitting with the plot, some teachers kidnap and rape Kirie.

Rapist teachers.

Kirie commits suicide, possibly not on purpose, in the one scene where a perfectly silent soundtrack is a nice touch.

Stuffed animal suicides, too.

Then a soundtrack starts! Mizuki finds the spiked flower in an alley, it teleports so it is growing out of her head, and then she is naked inside of it. There is some sort of artificial film grain on this scene, and nice guitar-and-industrial-noise music that we should have had all along.

The flower opens.

She shows up at school with the flower on her head, glowing faintly red. The other kids can see it, so it's not just crazy hallucinations. Now Mizuki is the head bully and all of the girls back her up to lock the former head bully in the locker. Alas, it's long and slow and awkward, and misses the mark on feeling like any sort of satisfactory climax.

Flower bully.

The flower power somehow drives the bully to commit suicide while Mizuki stands around doing nothing.

There's a new bully in town.

And apparently Kirie isn't dead, just in the hospital, and has her own magic flower?

Kirie gets her own flower.

Their male friend doesn't get a magic flower, but he does beat the rapist teachers with a pipe and cut off both of their dicks, before himself being stabbed through the neck with an umbrella.

Collecting penises.

Mizuki's parents have an odd session of kinky sex in a giant pile of trash.

Kinky trash heap.

Her classmates and teacher break out into sex and fights and dancing. One of them is anally raped with a mop and explodes blood in all directions, dying.

Deadly orgy.

One of them has her eyeball squeezed out.

Completely realistic eyeball.

Flower Mizuki looks very bored as she watches all of this, starts slicing people with knives, and finally smiles.

Murder is joy.

Kirie is watching through her flower, and thanks Mizuki. Maybe the flower is a portal to the world of the dead? I dunno. Maybe they're both alive. In either case, they both have flowers on their head and seem happy.

Everyone enjoys some killing.

The brain from the first cut never came back. Did that become the flower, or what? Was that her skull opening for the flower to grow in? Does the flower represent the concept of retaliatory violence, a seed planted inside her brain during her first trauma of forced abortion, and watered by her current bullies until it sprouted and blossomed? I guess I'll never know, but there was literally a scene where they watered her head, so I'm thinking yes to all of that.

Flower is life.

It seems like they had a good idea for some Little Shop of Horrors imagery interspersed with some grotesque sex and violence, and the last twenty minutes are indeed entirely enjoyable, but the traditional story leading up to it was thoroughly disappointing. I recommend just skipping ahead to where the flower comes in and watching it as a short film.

They all lived happily ever after.