Washed in gore, semen, booze and cocaine, “She’s Just a Shadow” defies categorization. The often ludicrous dialogue — even when sober, which isn’t often, characters strain to sell their lines — suggests a comedy, as does acting so lamentable it seems cruel to identify its perpetrators. Then there’s the serial-killer plotline, which nudges the movie into thriller territory, even as the frequency of food-drenched orgies and full-frontal photo shoots tip the whole into soft-core pornography. The movie’s tagline is “A Gangster Fairytale;” but whatever is going on here, I suspect only the writer and director, Adam Sherman, knows for sure.
Shot in Tokyo and with a mostly English-speaking Japanese cast and crew, this lurid blood bath centers on an impassive madam and her gaggle of under-occupied, over-embellished working girls. Two of these are vying for the addled attentions of a snaggletoothed gangster-addict whose boss controls the city’s sex trade and black markets. Not for much longer, however, if the madam and her poisonous mother have their way.
Every so often, we check in with a ferociously masturbating pervert who trusses his naked, writhing victims to train tracks, filming their demise for his online admirers. The movie’s misogyny is pervasive (in one scene, the madam is viciously beaten with a laptop), but so is its sadism — as a luckless beggar boy and his dog will attest.
Ladling on the neon and gumdrop colors, the cinematographer, David Newbert, sweats to class up the movie’s operatically debauched look. (Its content, sadly, is beyond his control.) I wouldn’t dare to predict who might cough up admission for this; but if watching prostitutes guzzle Twinkies and swallow handguns is your thing, then by all means come on down.
She’s Just a Shadow
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 57 minutes.