Based on a short story written by popular horror writer Yusuke Yamada, the Japanese film Bingo has brilliantly presented the game loved by so many all over the globe in a totally different angle. Whereas bingo game players would be excited to hear the numbers on their card called out, in this movie, those same numbers bring fear and death.
This is because sometime in the future, the death penalty in Japan has evolved to involve the victims’ families: they are given the power to determine who among the prisoners will be punished by death by playing a game of bingo. As the numbers are drawn, the prisoners fearfully anticipate their fate as they are seated on numbered spaces arranged in the form of a bingo card.
Bingo stars Kazuki Shimizu and Sakiko Matsui. Shimizu plays the role of Masaya, one of the prisoners in the ill-fated bingo hall who are waiting for their turn to be sentenced to death. Matsui, on the other hand, plays the role of Mayumi, one of the staff members in the monitor room who are operating the game.
The suspense is nerve-wracking in this one. When twenty-five prisoners are assembled in one room and they can all see those who will be meeting their death as their numbers are called, it can get very traumatic indeed. The sound of the balls rolling in the bingo ball cage sends them trembling with fear.
The subversion of this typically innocuous noise, normally associated with the thrill of winning money at a bingo night, is especially effective. The enduring popularity of the classic game, which has been bolstered in recent years by the influx of online operators offering no deposit bonuses, ensures that the vast majority of viewers will have experienced the sound at some point in their own lives, and thus can relate to the events.
There is something about Japanese horror films that gets your spine tingling. The underlying psychology beneath the death penalty that was made into a game is something that gets you thinking, is this form of revenge granted to the victims’ families a way to give them peace knowing that they have avenged their loved ones, or is this just another way to inflict more harm to the already cruel world we are in? And do the prisoners deserve this kind of torture?
We all need to go back to Masaya’s childhood and revisit what have led to him committing his crime. Maybe this adds to the suspense. Considering the agony he has been through at a very young age, you would probably want his number to never be called, given that there are twenty-four other prisoners who might be more deserving of a punishment.
It is also worthy to note how Yusuke Yamada’s other works also revolve around games, often twisting simple games into deadly ordeals that are extremely horrifying. One such novel is X Game, a two-part series which revolves around young individuals who found themselves inside a classroom and were forced to participate in the “X Game”.
Now, typically, X Games stand for “Extreme Games” and, as the name suggests, this is a sports event showcasing extreme sports held by ESPN twice every year. Aside from “extreme”, the letter “x” also pertains to danger and risk as the sports in the competition can be highly perilous.
True enough, the games in this movie are indeed dangerous and losing would cost you your life. The first of the series involves four sixth grade students – Hideaki, Takeshi, Chie, and Tetsuya. They woke up to find themselves inside a classroom of their old elementary school following the suicide of their teacher.
The four were compelled to participate in the X Game, a set of games and they needed to reach Level 13 in order to survive. The games are excruciating to watch – Thumbtack on a Chair, Pencil Guillotine, Clip, School Lunch, Slap, and the Death Penalty.
The second of the series involves five young men and women, including a high school student named Misuzu Saeki and nail artist Yuko Hagiwara. Similar to the first X Game movie, these individuals found themselves locked up inside a classroom and were forced to play a survival game called “Class”.
In both films, the underlying theme is that of revenge for the things that the players involved in the game did in the past. Apparently, the people behind the X Game intend for the players to pay for their “sins” and torture them slowly.
There are no scary ghosts or cursed objects in these films, but the interesting way that games have been turned into something deadly and traumatic makes these movies equally tormenting as the likes of The Grudge and The Ring, both Japanese cinematic icons.