Sogo Ishii waives the delirious black comedy of his well-traveled 1984 outing , “Crazy Family,” for an altogether more subversively disquieting mood in “Angel Dust.” Set against a Tokyo that’s part glittering jewel, part computerized monster, this psycho-killer chiller proffers love as the most debilitating, mind-controlling drug of all. Technical dazzler should intoxicate its share of festival junkies and fans of Japanese pix.
Panic spreads when a succession of young females become subway murder victims like clockwork every Monday during peak hour. A police shrink specializing in criminal mental disorders, Setsuko (Kaho Minami), becomes part of the investigating team, and her inquiries lead her to radical former colleague and lover Aku (Takeshi Wakamatsu).
Aku’s forte is ironing out the kinks of brainwashed religious-cult recruits, using highly unorthodox, psycho-manipulative methods that have placed him at the center of a heated controversy. The state of alarm crescendos feverishly each week as crime time rolls around, while Setsuko’s growing obsession with the case and the mind games of prime suspect Aku threaten to push her over the edge.
En route to the suspenser’s surprise solution, an eye-opener of “Crying Game” proportions regarding Setsuko’s ill-fated husband (Etsushi Toyokawa) is casually sprung. Plot is at times on the fuzzy side, and several scenes are stretched way beyond their due, but Ishii keeps the heady brew cooking, exercising a steely fascination that doesn’t let up.
Performances are persuasive, but the film is in every sense a techno creature , not an acting showcase. Jumpy editing, a rich, composite soundtrack, and Norimichi Kasamatu’s glowering camera work make strong contributions.