Aki is a self-solitude movie theater projectionist who avoids talking to men and to pretty much everyone in general. Her high school friend, Emi, is the complete opposite, a socialite of sorts, with a previous celebrity career as a singer and a high profile television news reporter. While Emi thrusts her unusual interests upon encouraging her married boyfriend, who is more than game, to sleep with Aki, the projectionist has a secret of her own in being the culprit of a string of grisly murders involving young women with their ovaries ripped from the inside out. When these murders occur, Aki is in a feverish, yet reserved state of mind that borders being sexually and dangerous uninhibited and totally blackout deranged. She discovers mementos of the night before in her home and questions her actions, especially as the kill count grows and Aki’s mind wanders between reality and the supernatural as a mysteriously eerie boy keeps popping up everywhere, even at the crime scenes. Emi’s dangerous game and her smug prodding of Aki sends her friend down a rabbit hole of a disturbing past.
If you’ve seen “Evil Dead Trap” then essentially forget everything you knew about the first film as the sequel is not a direct follow-up and concerns a different tale of prenatal byproduct revolving around a common moniker that connects both films. That name of evil that binds would be Hideki with the sequel titled “Evil Dead Trap 2: Hideki,” bestowed the subtitle to ensure proper acknowledge. Another aspect that’s different is the person in the director’s chair as “Akira’s” screenwriter Izô Hashimoto helms the 1992 sequel from a script cowritten between Hashimoto and the then early in career Chiaki Konaka who would go on to pen teleplays for a number of Ultraman series and get his hands colorfully deep within various anime project, such as the Digimon series. With such anime talent behind one of the more brutally savage renditions to sow the seeds early in the J-horror supernatural genre that incited the widely popular “Ringu” and “Ju-on” franchises less than a decade later, “Evil Dead Trap 2” pelts a supernatural and homicidal esoteric storyline riddles with themes of abortion, guilt, and deriding judgement. Naokatsu Itô and Mitsuo Fujita produce the Japan Home Video production, the company behind metal-horror “Tetsuo” and the Yakuza-zombie film “Junk.”
“Evil Dead Trap 2” washes the slate clean with a new cast enveloped into a ghastly chaos the abhorrent an the unnatural. The story takes on a bold female lead in Shoko Nakajima at the beginning of her career and the fresh faced actress doesn’t also have the typical physique of leading lady. Nakajima is not only a fascinating and curious choice to be the centerpiece principal but her performance is rock solid with an unsettling, mild-manner manic approach of a night stalker of women opposite her appearance. Now, whether Hashimoto intended juxtaposition is completely unknown to me, but I find the affect potent nonetheless in unification with Nakajima’s near-subdued and muted act. On the flipside, there’s “Last Frankenstein’s” Rie Kondoh as Aki’s good friend Emi. Emi’s a hotshot in her mind fabricated from the television reporter’s brief stint with fame and is cavalier in nature when it comes to her friends and flings. The contrast between the two is often playfully contentious that never settles on firm ground about how these two become to be friends to begin with, but when their friendship comes to a head in a heated and bizarre one-on-one skirmish with a boxcutter and film sheers, all bets are off and all our conclusions about the two friends are thrown to the wind. What sets them off is a man, Kurahashi to be exact, a role filled in by Shirô Sano (“Infection”) playing a boyish-behaving philanderer between the two women. The character of Kurashashi, much the same as Aki and Emi, have his own offshoot piece of the narrative pie with an unsound wife who waits for son to return home – the only problem is, Kurashashi’s wife never had a child. This is where the 3 characters arcs begin to meld together in a disorder of surrealism between reality and nightmare and those entangled in that web are, for lack of a better phrase, entering a consuming darkness from which they can’t escape, and Hideki is in the middle of it all. Performances are perfectly unhinged and coy, a variety of personas that make “Evil Dead Trap 2” engaging enough until the end, with a cast list that fills out with Sei Hiraizumi (“Orgasm: Mariko”), Kazue Tasunogae (“Ring 0: Birthday”), and Shôta Enomoto as the ominous, tangible presence of Hideki.
Comparing the original to the sequel is like comparing worn infested apples to bloody rotten oranges. The melding of the characters in the third act succumbs to an arthouse avalanche of symbolism, upon symbolism, upon symbolism. The audience is expected to piece together the chunks of sinew and connect the dots of sibylline secrets of a past contrition. There are strong themes of abortion that persist up into every other few scenes and mostly allude to Aki as the one who gave up a child that has somehow manifested into living, breathing, perceptible and tangible man-child. Aki’s haunted under her fragile, if not delusional, state and while making sense of the manifestations, that hasn’t quite come clear, yet the mental noise leads her to murder when provoked and has her staggering out into the middle of the night to be willingly ravaged by strange men. A logical response to Aki’s action is that internally grieved recluse has snapped, coming unhinged outside the guise of regret as she kills exclusively around a maternity ward that has since closed and is under heavy construction. However, you can’t disregard the supernatural element so easily as Aki visits a miko, a Japanese shaman of sorts, who is senses Aki’s connection to the other side. Multivocal like primordial Hell, Hashimoto works in beautifully shot scenes with brilliant urban lighting that collocates looming, in-your-face figure over the head of the antisocial Aki and shepherds the characters’ darkest secrets to summit before the entity rips them a part in a bloody showcase of madness.
Unearthed Films continues to reverse coagulation and let the blood flow once again with another obscure Japanese gory horror, “Evil Dead Trap 2: Hideki,” onto a new Blu-ray home video coming in at number nine on the spine for company’s Unearthed Classics banner. The release’s image is presented in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio and retains much of the luminescent coloring of heavy neon-lighting and intended gel filters to play down the story moment’s stitch in questioned reality. Skin textures appear really defined and that also translates into much of the other details as well. No bulky discolorations, splotchiness, or banding stand to say that there were no real compressions with this release albeit having virtually no special features to go along with the single layered feature. The release comes with two audio options, a lossy Japanese LPCM mono and a far more robust LPCM stereo. Both tracks outline a clean and clear passage with no real threats to the audio with only minor white noise in the background. Optional English subtitles provide an error-free experience and pace well with the film. Aforementioned, a lack of bonus features is reduced to only a photo gallery of scene stills and Unearthed trailers, “Evil Dead Trap 2: Hideki” included. “Evil Dead Trap 2: Hideki” challenges each and every one of us to think outside its basket case box and dredge up reason from an addled, abortion-deviled, and serial murdering narrative.