Director: Tetsuya Mariko | 108 minutes | Japanese with subtitles | Third Window Films | On sale 10th April
Taira, an unnervingly quiet delinquent teen, mysteriously leaves town right before the coming of age festival. His disappearance doesn t worry anyone except for younger brother Shota, his only remaining family, who sets off to look for him amidst the faded downtown neon lights. Taira aimlessly wanders through a nearby city, provoking fights with random bystanders. His violent streak intrigues high schooler Yuya who rallies him to beat up more people. As the night progresses, street-side scuffles soon turn into a sinister game, becoming even more mindless and indiscriminate. The two leave behind a trail of blood and mass confusion.
Another piece of Japanese cinema that explores some of that country’s aimless youth, DESTRUCTION BABIES offers an insight into young adults that feel no connection with society and the people around them.
As a result many of the characters in the feature see no problem in stealing, attacking people, kidnap and joyriding. The biggest activity they like to indulge in the most is violence. The viewer will see numerous acts of brutality being committed. Whether it be against one another or some poor, innocent bystander, causing bodily harm to someone occurs quite a bit in Destruction Babies.
The manner in which the regular violence is shot bares mentioning. Mario frames it in a way that doesn’t allow the viewer to see the full impact of what is happening. The first punch is thrown and the ensuring mayhem is filmed partially obscured or from a far. The sounds are still there, the sound of a fist repeatedly connecting with someone’s face or the noise of a head being slammed into a car door, but mostly Mariko doesn’t show it ‘face on’.
Instead he uses this tactic to leave the horrors of the assault to be something the viewer conjures up in their mind, which, for some, could be just as effective as actually seeing it.
The nature of the story and the casual way in which crimes are committed will bring to mind Kubrick’s seminal A Clockwork Orange (1968). While not as flamboyant as that piece of cult cinema, Destruction Babies could be considered a feature that is similar to it while also being different due to Mariko depicting his version in a much more toned down manner.
The movie is currently at select cinemas in the UK, although those that cannot attend a screening need not worry as Third Window will release it on DVD and Blu-ray on 10th April.
Oddly the movie is named ‘Distraction Babies’ in the subtitles.
Overall this is a fine effort from Mariko that examines a brutal way of life for a group of characters that simply don’t care.