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Film Review: Bakemono (2024) by Doug Roos
Film Review: Bakemono (2024) by Doug Roos

Film Review: Bakemono (2024) by Doug Roos

Gory if convoluted non-linear Japanese monster movie.

Following a string of successful shorts and other features, ex-patriate writer/director Doug Roos took the crowdfunding route to compile his latest feature, the gory creature feature horror “Bakemono.” Shot in and around Tokyo with a cast and crew of local talent, the enigmatic film displays his love for creature features, monsters, and old-school practical effects. Now, as the film continues its festival run, the graphic monster movie comes to Japan Filmfest Hamburg for its next special screening.

Bakemono is screening at Japan FilmFest Hamburg

Arriving at a Tokyo Airbnb apartment, Anna (Marilyn Kawakami) and her friend Risa (Miki Nomura) are hoping to use the space as a way of getting out of the horrors of the city and relaxing. The same goes for Army Officer Sean (Conor Lyne), who’s happy to get out of the hellish relationship that he just ended while staying at the apartment. As bodies go missing and building owner Mitsuo (Takashi Irie) seems unwilling to go along with the madness on display, the resulting discovery of his perverted actions at the center of everything is matched only by the ferocity of the demonic creature Mitsuo supposedly raised in black magic that haunts the building, killing anyone who dares enter the premises.

There’s quite a lot to like with “Bakemono.” It mostly centers around the film’s creature action and the preference for practically-driven effects by Roos himself. These end up providing an old-school touch to everything that comes off as genuinely refreshing and enjoyable. The storyline’s simple structure and repetitive framework ensure that a constant crop of guests are brought in to stay at the location, fulfilling the constant need for bodies to be slashed up or gruesomely dispatched by the vicious creature.

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The humanoid appearance and misshapen features look great when it’s captured in the dark, murky shadows of the building, and the carnage left behind ensures that severed limbs, scattered teeth, intestines, and even more get ripped out and left on-screen in a gruesome fashion. Also, the creature’s ability to supernaturally influence others to carry this out on their own allows for a nice change of pace. That aspect adds a touch of suspense to the mix where it’s hard to expect what’s going to happen giving this one quite a lot to like.

“Bakemono,” though, does have some issues holding it down. These mainly center on the scattershot and haphazard storyline by writer/director Roos where it becomes rather hard to tell what’s going on. Since this one tends to feature a wide range of characters who seem to visit the property at various times, it’s hard to tell if this takes place in a day, week, month, or at other random points in time. Getting names to faces is also next to impossible and any structure is lost with random victims appearing, doing whatever their interests say to accomplish, and then encountering the creature who knocks them out.

This setup never really provides a chance to get to know anyone beyond Army officer Sean or best friends Anna and Risa as they seem to be the main characters. The completely unexplained presence of the creature or who anyone else is makes for a confusing time when the film isn’t focused on splattering effective-looking entrails on-screen. It’s the main issue to be had with the film overall.

An overall fun if somewhat problematic creature feature, “Bakemono” manages to generate quite a lot to like about it even if the flaws present here do hold it down the most. Give the film a look if you’re a fan of this style of genre effort or are intrigued by its potential.