- Original title
- Japanese title
- Running time
- 30 minutes
- 22 December 2009
When I interviewed Shozin Fukui, he explained that his next short film S - 94 would set the tone for all of his forthcoming work. "This next film already has a virus as its subject matter. It's the first step in making the virus movie. I want to evolve this subject matter," he said. In August 2009, Fukui invited me to a preview screening to see the final edit of this new 30-minute film.
If S-94 is only "the first step" towards the great virus movie Fukui plans to make, a radical masterpiece of the darkest kind might slowly be in the making. But let's not speculate quite yet on how Fukui's future work pans out. Let's look at the work at hand, which is most certainly more than impressive enough.
The film opens with a shot of a vaguely feminine-looking person in a gas mask and a full-body protection suit, returning from an undefined outside mission as she takes a freight elevator to her shelter. We are back in the Fukui territory of 1996 - the pictures are very reminiscent of the secret lab featured in Rubber's Lover. The stark b&w contrasts, the glaring lights, the images of medical madness in an environment of outdated technology hidden in industrial ruins. Here, however, no crazy medical experiments take place. It's the survivors' shelter. A great plague has already emptied the world. For all we know, only two women have survived the blood-coughing killer disease... and both are here in the shelter now.
One of them is Miu (Hatsuki), the one who just came back in from outside. Already waiting in the shelter is Ice (played by manga artist Yuko Tatsushima). Ice has lost her mind after witnessing so many people dying all around her and all she wants is to die too. Miu however believes that there must be some chance of survival for humankind and all she wants is to find a man with the same strain of genetic resistance to the virus that has helped her survive so far. Perhaps they could raise disease-resistant children, too.
Agreeing on basically nothing, the two holed-up women argue constantly, their quarrels frequently escalating into violent and almost deadly attacks by Ice - no cool cat-fights though, these are bitter and vicious outbursts of hopeless grief and madness. Then suddenly Miu receives a message on one of her many radios. A man responds to her searches for survivors. She heads out to pick him up. What follows are incredible pictures of the darkest poetry: Miu shooting on a motorcycle through dead Tokyo, in full gear with gas mask and protection suit, the big black tower blocks looming overhead looking like tombstones to a vanished race.
She finds the guy, picks him up... and well, the rest of the movie you have to watch by yourself. Let's just say that Ice also rediscovers her libido once the man enters the shelter. The ending is violent, unexpected, and leaves you wanting to see more. But those short 30 minutes are all you're going to get for now.
Fukui is back at his best with the strong images, the extreme violence, and the disturbing claustrophobia of the shelter - right where he left off with Rubber's Lover, his previous masterpiece. As in his earlier films, sound is crucial. This time it was delivered by Tokyo noise musician Rieu and his band Despair. This is a movie where you got to turn the sound up to ear-splitting levels. Quite appropriately, the film had its official premiere at the 'Drive to 2010' noise music festival in Shinjuku in October 2009, with Rieu and his band delivering a live performance with the movie. Soon after, Fukui began taking S - 94 on a tour through Japan, with the band playing live in the theaters.
If international organizers read this, yes, Fukui and the band would also be ready to come to your film festival or whatever event you plan. You will get a wild ride for sure. Just as Fukui says on his website: "Blood and noise blow up in the monochrome world." But if this is really only the first step towards Fukui's definite virus movie, a truly terrifying cinematic experience will await us sooner or later. Stay tuned if you dare.