Written by: JR
Edited by: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Sion Sono
Producer: Mitsuru Kurosawa, Shigeyuki Endo, Tsuguo Hattori, and Makoto Okada
Screenwriter: Sion Sono, Makoto Sanada, and Masaki Adachi
Date of release: February 17, 2007
Chiaki Kuriyama as Yuko Mizushima
Miku Sato as Mami Mizushima
Ren Osugi as Gunji Yamazaki
Tsugumi as Kiyomi Mizushima
Megumi Sato as Yuki Morita
Eri Machimoto as Sachi Koda
Yuna Natsuo as Kondo
Rating = 1.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
A port security personnel opens a shipping container full of hair, only to find a mutilated body of a woman with a Christmas bell hanging on the tip of her finger. The corpse is then delivered to a morgue for investigation. After observing that hair continues growing from the head, wounds, eye sockets, and mouth of the woman, the embalmer (Ren Osugi) steals her body. Later on, he decides to harvest hair from the corpse and sell hair extensions to beauty parlors. Meanwhile, Yuko Mizushima (Chiaki Kuriyama), a hairstylist, finds out that terrible consequences happened to those who wore the extensions and is tangled with the mishaps.
The Gore Factor
The title of the film gives viewers a hint about its device for gore—hair. One taunting image is when blood spilled from the hair extension when cut, tendering that it has life. Hair is seen growing at an exponential rate to quench its thirst for vengeance. It defies the people who patronized Yamazaki’s hair extensions. When the corpse is battered with anger, the hair becomes aggressive, strangling and killing everyone in its scope. Either it creeps outward to pull the scalp of the person to its extremity or it creeps inward to mess up with the internal organs. It imitates the behavior of a stubborn vine and relays the traumatic memory of the corpse to its host.
The Grave Review
If not a mockery to mainstream J-Horror, Sion Sono’s Exte: Hair Extensions falls short as an enigma and is more of an absurdity due to its slapstick elements. From time to time, the film loses focus to relay the premise of killer hair extensions as a spiteful ploy of a woman victimized by organ harvesting. With this said, Sono has brought a lot of sly humor to the tale which confuses the audience whether to treat it as an attempt for horror or humor.
The villain and the protagonist are theatrical in an intriguing and unearned manner. For instance, Yuko introduces her everyday routine while talking to the audience and one would never know whether it is habitual tendency or the director is breaking the fourth wall, it just comes off as weird. Yamazaki, the morgue attendant with a hair fetish, is also a fun character to watch in which he sings songs about the lushness of the corpse’s hair, suggesting necrophiliac tendency. These characters are placed against a realistic background which makes them stick out.
Exte: Hair Extensions (2017) uses an eerie version of Silent Night as an omen for death and a twisted musical score, but the rest of the soundtrack is mellow and sunny including the song played at the end credits which emphasizes the film’s consistent theme What is more of a fatal flaw is the cartoonish CGI used when the hair lengthens, especially that the shots are mixed up with the textured ones. The scenes are time-lapsed briefly, and as a result, it makes it appear goofy instead.
Moreover, as if he is an unearthly creature, Yamazaki’s tongue elongates in an unnatural manner when pulled at the near end of the film. It further cheapens the characterization and visual medium because he has been established as an ordinary human being all along. His death appeared to be a comic relief rather than a grotesque end, not only because the CGI is outdated, but also because the severed parts of his body is restructured into a talking Christmas gnome. Sono must have opted for a full-fledged comedy horror so that the film would not be grievously erratic.
Sono has an opportunity to tastefully use the concept of hair, which is uncommon in the horror genre, but he missed it. However, the film opens up to a heartful relationship between Yuko and Mami, genuinely depicting a conditioned personality of an abused child. Other than that, the film needs to have a unifying frame because similar to a hair running amok, it is all over the place.
Because of the above elements, Grave Reviews gives Exte: Hair Extensions (2017) one and a half graves out of five graves.
Do you agree with our review? Comment below.
You may also like our review of the film, Audition.