Director Maki Mizui’s mini tour-de-fource

Actress Maki Mizui has made some brave choices after transitioning from being a pin-up (“gravure”) model. She starred as a girl experiencing abuse in Endless Blue (2009), which has great relevance to the present film. Mizui also had roles in splatter fests like Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl and Tokyo Gore Police (which she also wrote).

Now Mizui takes the reigns for her directorial debut, and she’s only 21. This powerful and harrowing tale first unspooled at the much-loved Yūbari International Fantastic Film Festival in late February. In a tale that could be taken from recent headlines in Japan, Mayuka (Kayano Masuyama of AKB48 fame) is abducted on her way home from a part-time job. The man responsible (Ken Koba), a serial sex offender, holds and torments her, but in the end releases her unharmed.

Deeply traumatized, Mayuka is wracked with guilt and fear but does not inform the police. The resultant portrayal of a victim’s psychology is astute, disturbing, and effective. This is a mini tour-de-force. Hopefully it portends big things from the versatile talent Mizui. English title: Kept. (70 min)