Lumberjack the Monster review – an explosion of horror strangeness from a master of the art

Takashi Miike’s operatically over-the-top new film concerns a serial killer but who needs a plot with all this trademark violence, alienation and nihilism?

The vintage year of 1999 has been back in the critical conversation recently for its quarter-centenary; it was the year of The Sixth Sense, The Matrix, Fight Club, American Beauty – and there can hardly have been more brilliant and more disturbing film of that time than Takashi Miike’s demonically inspired horror-satire Audition, a nightmarishly violent parable of sexual politics and national malaise which launched his reputation in the west as a master of the macabre and the extreme.

Perhaps Miike has never quite equalled that hideous display of cruelty and fear, or perhaps it is truer to say he never again brought these things into such a sharp dramatic focus. But he certainly has kept up an extraordinary productivity and his latest movie – unveiled at last year’s Tokyo film festival and released without fanfare on Netflix – has a typically gonzo freakiness, in that characteristically Miike style of throwing everything into the mix.

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