Exte - Hair Extensions (Ekusute) (2007)

"All dirty women have to do something about their filthy hair."
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Exte - Hair Extensions (Ekusute)

A Japanese movie entitled Exte - Hair Extensions (Ekusute) will instantly conjure up uninspiring pictures of standard supernatural hair-ghosts creeping out whiney Asian girls in an attempt to exploit the trend of J-Horror breaking into the Western world. This could not be further from the truth. The hairy (and often wet) ghost is an integral part of various Eastern folklores and, since Ringu, Asian cinema has been flooded with Sadako Yamamura impersonators and a number of generic J-Horrors aimed at a wider audience, even master of horror Takashi Miike attempted to invade the market with One Missed Call and managed to disappoint by dumbing down his usually outrageous style. Korean director Shin-yeon Won attempted to tackle hair hysteria with The Wig but added nothing new leaving the challenge open. Sion Sono who, having already proved his directorial competence with Suicide Club, Noriko's Dinner Table and Strange Circus, stormed in with Exte and delivered the goods.

Exte takes hair horror to another level and manages to take suffocation by hair away from retro porn and insert it firmly in the horror genre with some truly disturbing hair related effects. Fingernail, eye, ear and wound mutilation are enough to make even the hardest horror fiend cringe but afflict these mutilations with crazed hair extensions and there is a multitude of new cringe scenarios created. Throw in a few eccentric characters, the beauty of Chiaki Kuriyama, a hairdressing salon with the potential of much scissoring and the occasional smattering of the bizarre and you realise that Sion Sono is right the man to take supernatural Japanese hair horror to the next level.

Customs inspectors discover a cargo crate full of harvested human hair used for the manufacture of hair extensions among the stench they also discover a corpse who has been the victim of a different kind of harvesting... namely her organs and an eye, for sale on the black market. The corpse is transported to the police morgue where the night watchman, Yamazaki (Ren Osugi), instantly falls for the mouldy maiden and takes her somewhere more secluded for some romantic necrophilia somewhere dark and stinky

The cadaver begins to sprout hair from its scars and empty eye socket and not wanting to miss a business opportunity with his new found love, Yamazaki gathers the hair to sell to hair salons as hair extensions.

Yuko (Chiaki Kuriyama) is an apprentice hair stylist and her path soon crosses with Yamazaki and the hair extensions from hell soon start to reap vengeance on the general public and customers of the salon.

The storyline is far from complex and doesn't twist and turn to try and make sense of what is going on. It is straightforward horror with no intention except to freak out the viewer and to inspire mistrust in dead peoples hair, and despite the story being explained there is no convoluted conclusion. It's all about the hair and almost homage to the current trends while poking a parodical finger in their hairy intentions. While the irony is not lost, a superb team of actors and some nifty special effects make for a superb movie experience.

Sion Sono shares the writing credits with Masaki Adachi and Makoto Sanada which explains the J-Horror influence as Adachi worked on the Ju-On movies among others but Sono's eccentricity shines through and this is what makes this movie excel among the numerous movies competing in the same market.

Making a 108 minute horror movie about hair extensions is no mean feat but, like the leper in the porno theatre, Sion Sono manages to pull it off. There is no complicated subplot although there are some eloquent and emotional character interactions plus some customary child abuse to heighten the tension. The effects are fur-upheaving and the vengeful hair extensions manage to be a threatening antagonist rather than a comical Terry Wogan sidekick, the hair extensions manage to get into places that even the most cunning pube could not access and manages to grow from areas that would surprise a Bee-Gee. This is definitely a recommendation along with everything else Sion Sono has created.
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies

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