Disturbing, metaphoric, and entertaining
Keen Anthony | Scottsdale, AZ | 04/19/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Gusher No Binds Me", called "Hellevator" in the US, is a great addition to the pantheon of Japanese horror films that blend intense gore and violence with dark psychological themes and social commentary. While not the visceral gore-fest that "Ichi The Killer" was, "Hellevator" is still far bloodier than what American moviegoers are used to. Hellevator would arguably find a place beside masterpieces like "One Missed Call" and "Audition".
This is a film that will appeal most to committed gore hounds and fans of art-school influenced terror films, but there is much here for connoisseurs of Asian cinema to appreciate. Hiroki Yamaguchi's use of design, color, and camera are integral to a vivid film-making style that often goes missing in American cinema.
Hellevator takes place in an oppressive metropolitan police-state of the near-future, somewhat reminescent of Terry Gilliam's excellent "Brazil". The setting is the inside of a massive arcology building with over 130 floors that houses corporate offices, hospitals, cemetaries, grocery stores, and a prison. Most of the film takes place in a "transport" - an room-sized elevator. The transport, serving as a visual metaphor for a commutor train or bus, comes complete with a machine-like leather-uniformed navigator who works from a console.
It may be the visual imagery of electronics in Hellavator that hits the viewer first. In Japan electronic devices are presented in sleek clean designs, emphasizing elegance as much as functionality. In Hellevator, a sharply contrasting presentation is made. Electronics devices from the transport's console to the surveillance office's television to the character's cell phones are a mess of exposed wires parts.
The story is about a typical 17 year-old student named Luchino. Luchino, when caught smoking in the work tunnels, escapes into a transport elevator where she is joined by the rest of the cast. When the transport is ordered to stop at the prison level, a young overly-confident constable and two violent prisoners slated for execution on another floor join the transport's passengers.
Luchino is a telepath. This adds a slightly disjunctive subplot to the story. Telepaths hide their mind-reading abilities from the rest of society, but there are hints to indicate that the government uses telepaths to monitor civilians. The initial tension in the film centers around the two prisoners tormenting the passengers after a sudden transport accident entraps everyone and frees the prisoners. The conflict ends fairly quickly - maybe even too quickly. The remainder of the film centers around Luchino and the interaction of the passengers while trapped in the transport.
Hellevator is an enjoyable, but disturbing, film. The acting does get mechanical in many places, but it seems intentional. The acting does fit well with the societal atmosphere Yamaguchi has established.
On the downside, Hellevator doesn't leave the viewer with any great insight on life. The story, whether intentionally or not, draws up comments on a highly compressed society that is burdened by duty to government, corporate conformity, and personal honor; and Yamaguchi does allow us to see the darkside of these themes through the characters. However, we don't get the opportunity to explore these themes further once the ride is over.
The DVD is has a gorgeous presentation. The transfer is clean. The box has a constructed well, and has high quality gloss detailing, something I would expect more from a special edition big Hollywood release."
First film from visionary director a sneak peak to greatness
M. Sutton | Dallas, USA | 03/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Gusher No Binds Me (Hellevator's original title, still present at various places on the US DVD packaging in addition to it's new title) is far from being a perfect film. The special effects are usually terrific, but occasionally laughable, and some of the (entirely volunteer) cast leave something to be desired. But overall, it's an amazingly unique, tense, and entertaining piece of independent Japanese cinema in the veign of Brazil, Cube, or Alive.
The film takes place in a strange, underground world where civilization exists on different vertical levels. Elevators exist like subway cars, transporting people from their home to work, school, the hospital, or prison. The society is more advanced than we are, but it's an oddly organic type of technology. Everything is analog; some tools and toys even use what appear to be real organic eyeballs.
I won't dive too deeply into the specific plot of the film, as it's well paced intricicies are perhaps the most addictive quality of the film. Needless to say, however, it's much more complicated than the American title might have you believe. Yes, there is ample bloodshed in this confined space, but it's not nearly bloodshed for bloodshed's sake. It allows different characters' personalities and histories to be brought into the light (sometimes subtly, and sometimes quite blatently) and lifts the film from a mere sadistic joy-ride to a substantial psycological sci-fi film.
The Media Blasters DVD is excellent. The transfer is fine, though the movie's shot-on-video origins may be destracting, the subtitles are terrific and the special features are engaging and informative. Various cast and crew interviews and making of videos are included, along with other assorted special features and four trailers for other Media Blasters' releases.
This is not a mainstream film, but if you're looking at this page, that's probably not what you're looking for. If you simply want something to indulge your sadistic side, you'll definitely find it here. But anyone interested in independent film or inventive sci-fi should take a chance on the movie: it's quite an accomplishment."
Please buy this!!!!
child of the cuckoo | Augusta, GA | 06/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hellevator is honestly one of the best films I have ever seen. If you do buy it, don't get upset while you're watching it because it seems like such an indie film. That's what the director wanted. Just try to soak in the interesting scenery and twisted characters. Don't rationalize the film, enjoy it! This is the first time I figured out the ending half way through the movie and wasn't disappointed when it came to pass. You've got to see it!!!"