Hapless Yokohama p.i. Maiku Hama is back in another seriocomic adventure, his third, supposedly last, and weakest --- though director Kaizo Hayashi's series still offers some stylish diversion. Despite the expected hip, idiosyncratic air, offshore prospects look minor. Still operating out of an office behind a movie theater's projection booth, Maiku Hama (Masatoshi Nagase) is unusually flush at this chapter's start. Biz is good, and he's got a steady girlfriend in the mute Yuriko (Yui Natsukawa), whose fervent Christianity provides just a minor stumbling block.
But a new case inevitably pulls Maiku into its web. Women are being found around the city, their lifeless, evidently poisoned bodies festooned with elaborate makeup and full-length floral dresses. Worse, Maiku’s own fingerprints are being planted on evidence. We soon suspect a connection to Mikki (Nagase again), a retarded teen whom Yuriko befriends at her church-volunteer job. Mikki’s sister and caretaker, Mizuki (Tomoko Yamaguchi), becomes the obvious key. A well-liked factory worker by day, she moonlights abducting young women in a twisted ritual whose full import is revealed after much mayhem.
All this treads rather close to conventional, distasteful sexploitation-thrillerdom, complete with Freddy Krueger-type getup and an absurd, attenuated “surprise” climax in a drainage tunnel. Use of schizophrenia as a plot device feels retro, in the mode of umpteen lurid 1960s “Psycho” rip-offs. Hard to swallow for different reasons is the syrupy romance with ever-imperiled Yuriko, whose disability makes her as patly angelic as Mikki’s at last renders him demonic.
Nonetheless, pic remains watchable — albeit sans the overall bravado of Maiku Hama’s debut in “The Most Terrible Time of My Life,” or the stylistic highs of subsequent “Stairway to the Distant Past.” Brief, quick-cut yellow-tinted sequences (supposedly showing Mikki’s thought patterns) are striking.
As in earlier adventures, Maiku himself gets surprisingly modest screen time. Best supporting characters are comic, with a promising new figure in earnest young police detective Kozu (Tetsuta Sugimoto), who has the ill luck to be partnered with Maiku’s old police nemesis, Nakayama (Akaji Maro). Latter’s bottomless sour-mash bluster is summed up by the comment, “While I was drunk this country’s gone to the dogs!”
Perfs are good, pacing OK, wide-screen color lensing sharp. Yet the perfunctory feel “Trap” emits compared with its predecessors suggests director/co-writer Hayashi may be well finished with this planned trilogy.