Proof that bad movies come from all corners of the globe, Marronnier is one of the worst Asian horror movies I've had the displeasure of sitting through and I can safely say that it's even absolutely of no value to fans of this country's genre output.
The whole thing opens up with a kidnapping gore scene where a girl is taken off the streets by a couple of thugs and has her hand and head removed using a metal wire. I'd like to say this has purpose later, but like most things in this movie, it really doesn't. In fact from there the plot goes all over the place, and has not a lick of coherency or even proper pacing, as we're introduced to Marino (Mayu) a girl who loves her marronnier doll and soon finds herself being stalked by the nutty guy who gave it to her.
Things get even more confused from there as it turns out her stalker is an assistant to a famous doll maker (who made his first doll from his wife's corpse, don't ask) and he's been killing off various women and turning them into dolls as well. Soon Marino finds herself in the mountains lair of the doll maker and is chased around by stalker boy who takes time out to kill the craftsman, her friends, and her brother.
Oh, and there's also a finale that trots out reanimated dolls, an axe fight (which has one of the combatants wrapping their clothes around them to look all "superhero"-ish), a chase through a pile of wedding dresses, and the groanable line: "Girl's dreams keep glittering. Forever!".
As you can see it's hard to make heads or tails of this piece of trash as the movie tries to cram as much as it possibly can in its 82 minute run time in the process making this feel like a series of loosely related scenes strung together with a writer-director (Hideyuki Kobayashi) who's seen Evil Dead a bit too much and likes emulating Sam Raimi's style by having the camera zip around hyperactively.
Sure, the dolls are mildly creepy looking but considering the line "A doll-horror movie" appears on the box you'd expect a Hell of a lot more of the little bastards running around maiming people - they do a couple of things here and there (with no explanation, of course), but if I'm watching a doll horror flick, I want murderous dolls!
The only scene worth anything here has the killer using the heroine's brother as a hand puppet (with his hand inserted into the guy's back), but there's too many scenes like the one where the killer scares Marino by brushing his teeth insanely fast until his gums bleed to make one measly scene raise this out of the dumpster. Avoid.
Visit Elite Entertainment for more info. (Chris Hartley, 6/06/05)
Directed By: Hideyuki Kobayashi.
Written By: Hideyuki Kobayashi.
Starring: Mayu, Misao Inagaki, Hiroto Nakayama, Hoshino Haruna.
Picture Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen.
Picture Quality: The picture quality here is pretty unstable as scenes go from looking alright, to looking washed-up and soft, to looking like absolute crap. Not sure if it's the source material, but this transfer looks barely above VHS quality.
Extras: Firstly let me mention that the subtitling job here is awful - it feels like its missing dialogue and there's constant mis-spellings throughout. However, Elite has managed to put a bunch of extras on here with two trailers (one 30 seconds, the other 60), a still gallery of the dolls, an interview with doll creator Junji Ito, a brief "behind-the-scenes" featurette, a handful of pointless deleted scenes, and the bizarre, all-doll short "The Legends Of Marronnier" which is almost as hard to watch as the movie despite only being 8 minutes.