Director: Goro Kishitani
Starring: Juri Ueno, Yoshino Kimura, Daisuke Maki, Yasufumi Terawaki, Tanaka Kei, Kazuki Kitamura
On the day before her wedding, naive and oblivious Hiroko (Juri Ueno) is sharing her good fortune with her landlord when a ridiculous series of coincidences ends with the death of her landlord. When she discovers that he had a massively creepy, voyeuristic and stalkerish relationship fixated on her, Hiroko panics and looks to get rid of the body. Traveling to a forest, she is interrupted when a body falls from the sky onto the hood of her car. This person is Fukuko (Yoshino Kimura), a deeply lonely and deeply suicidal woman who was attempting to hang herself when the branch broke above Hiroko. Finding odd camaraderie and developing a weird friendship, the two meet even weirder people and find themselves in bizarre situations as the ‘Killer Bride’ tries to cover up her crime and make it back in time to get married and live happily ever after.
Actor Goro Kishitani writes and directs his first feature crafting a bizarre mishmash of black comedy, odd situational humor, and a surprising bit of tenderness. While there is a decided lack of focus at times, the film maintains a solid pace that keeps the jokes coming at a fevered pitch. Numerous visual gags pepper the screen and the addition of genre-bending sequences like a hilarious one off musical number and recurring bits with a Bosozoku biker gang led by Akiyoshi Nakao will perhaps be most memorable, but the purely high number of uniquely Japanese humor bits will keep even the most experienced Japanese cinephile guessing. For those lacking familiarity with the idea of Japanese slapstick, it will be very confusing but if absurdist comedy is your thing, there is much to like in the picture.
Juri Ueno’s doe-like take can be a little grating at times, but she’s a solid lead and has no difficulty earning the audience’s backing. Kimura’s OTT characterization stands out; especially when her cries for attention come into conflict with her suicidal tendencies. Throw in some memorable cameos by the aforementioned Nakao, Kazuki Kitamura, Tanaka Kei, and a laugh out loud performance by Yasufumi Terawaki as the ill-fated landlord, and the supporting cast rounds out the madness nicely.
The film makes great use of both static and dynamic camera movement, at times lingering for just those few seconds more on a shot to give the just the right amount of payoff and also utilizing zooms and exciting pans to fully drive home the road trip and journey nature of the picture. The soundtrack has some oddly memorable bits, but the audio cues and sound effects truly drive the jokes and moments home. The sound and art direction itself is top notch in pretty much every respect.
In the end, Killer Bride’s Perfect Crime, aka Killer Virgin Road, is a difficult film to fully qualify. I certainly found more than just funny, hilarious even, but the simple truth is that it will easily turn off many viewers with its non-sensical story and characters that are seemingly drug-addled but without the aid of pharmaceuticals. It is inarguable that the film has a lot of manic energy, wild situations, and large splashes of visual panache. While I again have to say that this isn’t a film for everyone, for my money, it is perhaps a criminally underseen and underappreciated modern comedy. Definitely worth a watch.