Cunning. Chilling. Psychotic.

Tetsuya Nakashima’s 2010 Japanese psychological thriller Confessions has a wonderful though very disturbing storyline: a secondary school teacher enacts revenge on two of her pupils who killed her four year old daughter. Narrated by the teacher, a pupil in the class, one of the killers’ mothers, and both of the murderers; each confession becomes more and more chilling to the bone.

Takako Matsu plays the cunning teacher Yuko Moriguchi superbly beginning as a shy victim unable to control her class, progressing into a cunning lady seeking revenge for her daughter, and ending as a somewhat psychotic person herself.

What is even more disturbing is that her class of antisocial, bullying, and psychopathic children are only 13 years old. Nakashima portrays these children as the most violent group of people: killing children, killing parents, killing friends – the deaths get a little too much.

However, the depictions of these deaths are wonderfully done. Can I say that? As a horror film-phobe I never usually watch any horror films at all, but the death scenes are not morbid or grotesque but in fact brilliantly filmed.

The monochromatic settings enhance the bright red of the blood, so really the only thing seen on screen is blood, and perhaps a knife – but not usually in the same frame. It was basically brilliant filming and brilliant cinematography.

Nakashima wrote the film script too, and the English translation from the DVD I saw was great, playing very well on word repetition which becomes very haunting and has perfect use in the last scene. Needless to say, the killers get their comeuppance in their own unique ways.

Confessions is great if you want to see how a teacher can mess with her pupils’ minds and get revenge in the most twisted and somewhat legal way. What I think Nakashima is trying to say is: 13 year olds should be able to go to jail. The violence, deaths, script or translation guide the audience to think a certain way, as we are of course made to view things on the teacher’s side – what else can Nakashima be saying?

Very different from his other films which are often surreal, brightly coloured, and filled with songs; Nakashima’s Confessions is definitely not child-friendly like his previous work. Very chilling, though brilliant as it is, I for one will not be seeing this again.

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