Hellhole: Inmate 611 (2007, Japan)
An odd, boring film. Oddly boring. On the basis of a number of reviewers bemoaning the lack of lesbian sex and shower scenes, I thought that this might be a women’s prison movie with something to say. It isn’t and doesn’t. It does, however, aim to educate, giving a helpful rundown on the prisoners’ day and explaining various aspects of prison life – such as that the reception process is known as ‘red fall’ because inmates used to wear red clothing, and that prison food is known as ‘Mossou chow’, a mossou being the bowl from which the food is eaten. These are useful pieces of information. But all this illumination is interrupted by several less edifying and rather tedious sex scenes where the gratuitous wearing of underwear and draped bedclothes adds substantially to the degree of difficulty. And very little else happens in the rest of the film.
The prison’s new attraction is Sayaka Mizshima (Akira Kiuchi), at 27 a fading TV celebrity who has been sentenced to 3 years for stabbing (with a fork) the man whom she believed was her ultra-rich boyfriend, and (with a knife, repeatedly) his preferred lover. At red fall she is given a hard time by square-jawed guard Keiko Mikawa (Jaguar Yokotu), who resents her fame and success, and Sayaka is immediately placed in solitary, with one hand strapped in front and the other behind… making eating, sleeping and going to the toilet all ridiculously challenging. Not to mention clapping.
In amongst the helpful tips (did you know that the rice the women are served is made up of seven parts white rice, and three parts barley and is known as ‘stinky rice’?) there is a not-so-educative element of sleaze: the male Warden and two male colleagues watch as the new receptions are strip searched, and the head guard Takanashi (Hitoshi Yamaguchi) has sex with a young prisoner, Aiko Inoue (Sho Nishino), in return for interceding in her case to prevent a minor disciplinary infraction (having possession of another prisoner’s address!) costing her her parole.
But what happens? Nothing, much. We learn that Sayaka was taken for a ride by people who wanted to exploit her for commercial gain. We see one of those wonderful prison-movie 2-minute visits between Sayaka and her brother, Hiroshi, who then goes on to expose Yuya Ando, the rotter stabbed by his sister. We discover that Sayaka has a past. And we witness an initiation ritual with Sayaka being electrocuted by her cellmates to (a) teach her who’s boss, (b) put her in her place, or (c) instructively demonstrate an electric arc between two exposed wires.
Sadly, you can’t even watch the sequel, Hellcage: Inmate 611 Part 2, for the story to go somewhere or for Sayaka’s mysterious past to be revealed to make it interesting.
Also known as Female Prisoner 611: Hell Hole and Joshû 611: onna-tachi no yakata
Posted on June 18th, 2016 at 8:57 pm. Updated on June 26th, 2016 at 1:57 pm.
#436 in the Top 500