Mark Kelly here and I’m back with another Reel Review. I’ll be reviewing the crime documentary The Monster with 21 Faces (かい人21面相) , directed by Michael Welborn. The film recently had its world premiere at CinemaSlice.coms A Slice of Fright film festival. The movie is part one of an in depth look at the real life incidents surrounding a wealthy Japanese businessman. It details the attack on his career, friends, and family by an unknown assailant calling himself the monster with 21 faces.
In Japan during the spring of 1984 president of Hashiba Homegoods, Sotara Hashiba(Bruce Falcon), is taking a shower at his home one evening. Unbeknownst to him, 3 individuals dressed in dark clothes and white masks have broke into his residence. They have tied up his wife and daughter and are planning to kidnap Hashiba himself. What follows is a decent into mayhem and mystery. Hashiba struggles to protect everything and everyone he holds dear against multiple unknown attacks.
As a fan of true crime documentaries, I really enjoyed this film. The direction is excellent in that the camerawork really sets the appropriate mood for a crime thriller. The real life footage mixed with the dramatic recreations is done really well and they complement each other perfectly. You never get too much of one or the other. The pacing of the story is also excellent. Like a good true crime thriller it gives us parts of the story, a little bit at a time. Enough that we are never full and are always hungry for more.
Some criticisms I have of the film are that it’s a bit confusing in areas due to a couple of issues. First is the use of non Japanese actors. Due to the low budget nature of the film I understand this choice, and it is not much of a concern. However, I do feel it’s worth noting before viewing to avoid confusion. Secondly, because of the names and places in the film being in Japanese, some of the information gets a bit muddled. The director did a good job in keeping me invested. I had no problem viewing this film a few more times in order to work the confusing bits out.
The Monster with 21 Faces is a finely crafted crime thriller. It can get a bit confusing in parts, but is still suspenseful enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. If you are a fan of crime movies that are based on real life events look no farther then The Monster with 21 Faces.
5 out of 6 Reels.