Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Random 11: the Prodigy vs. the Serial Killer
Unagi was a detective prodigy, like a Japanese Nancy Drew, but her latest adult
case would turn the hair of the various Carolyn Keene ghostwriters ghastly
white. A serial killer has been running circles around the Tokyo police,
including Unagi. Thus far, she has been the only copper able to discern his
patterns, but she is always a step behind the sinister mastermind throughout
Tony Sebastian Ukpo’s Random 11 (trailer here), which releases
today on DVD from Fenix Pictures.
significance dates (Leap Year February 29th’s, ironic holidays), an
unknown mass murderer somehow orchestrates the simultaneous deaths of eleven
victims. Ten are chosen at random, but the eleventh is specifically chosen for
some reason. At least that is Unagi’s current working hypothesis.
Unfortunately, the killer seems to know she knows. He apparently deviated from
the pattern during his latest horror show, leaving Unagi back at square one.
embarrassed by the lack of progress, the political establishment perversely cuts
the funding for Unagi’s task force, leaving only her and her trusty junior
Junichi Otomo to work the case. It might not be farsighted, but it ironically
gives Unagi greater flexibility. When she and Otomo discover the eleventh
victim was murdered eleven thousand miles away in London, she duly picks up the
Random 11 features one of
the creepier opening credit sequences in years. It is not wholly unprecedented
in conception, but the execution is quite effective, setting the tone for what
follows. In fact, that is true for the whole film. Although Random 11 was likely produced under
severe budget constraints, its sparsely severe mise-en-scène is altogether chilling.
This is a textbook case where less really is more.
also has the advantage of a dynamite lead. If you liked the concept of the
gothy wunderkind sleuth, but thought L. from the Death Note franchise was too chipper, than you have to meet Unagi. As
the detective, Haruka Abe is convincingly brilliant in a social awkward kind of
way. She maintains a sense of mystery and vulnerability that keeps us locked in
right from the start.
fact, Death Note is a decent
comparison for Random 11, since Unagi
and her Scotland Yard colleague seem to be fighting an almost omniscient foe.
There is an intricate system to killings in both films, elevating them both
well beyond standard issue serial killer thrillers.
Not exactly a spoiler per se, but the only real
drawback to Random 11 is that it
offers absolutely no closure whatsoever, trumpeting the coming of part two as
the final credits roll. Otherwise, Random
11 is a genuinely suspenseful, hugely atmospheric micro-budget surprise. Highly
recommended for genre fans, it is now available on DVD from Fenix Pictures.
Labels: DVD, Serial killer movies