Review: Faux edgy, Tokyo-set thriller ‘She’s Just a Shadow’ manages to offend and bore

'She's a Shadow'
A scene from the movie “She’s a Shadow.”
(Breaking Glass Pictures)

Adam Sherman’s “She’s Just a Shadow” opens with a bubbly, hot pink script borrowed straight from “Superfly,” announcing that “Adam Sherman Presents” what we’re about to see. Though the film takes place in a bizarre version of Tokyo where everyone speaks American-accented English, writer, director, producer Sherman self-consciously borrows from blaxploitation from the outset, and it’s obvious he doesn’t get it. Splashing his name above the title means we’re always aware that this highly stylized film comes from a white male perspective, making this repugnantly violent, faux-edgy, fetishistic slice of Asian exotica extra hard to swallow.

Sherman’s bloated, meandering film opens on a splashy sequence of pornographically sexualized violence. A serial killer stalking young women ties his victims to train tracks and lets time take its course. He focuses his attention on a group of colorfully adorned Harajuku Lolita sex workers who are minded by an existentially bereft love triangle: gangsters Red Hot (Kentez Asaka) and Gaven (singer Kihiro) and madam, or “pimpstress,” as she calls herself, Irene (Tao Okamoto). The group engages in endless drug-fueled orgies, while one-by-one, the girls are gruesomely picked off by the Train Tracks Killer.

In this highly art-directed weirdo horror softcore, no amount of spurting blood or naked female bodies can make up for the poor writing and awkward performances, but Sherman certainly throws all of that at the problem. Often, trying too hard to be edgy sails right past offensive and just hits boring. Sherman, amazingly, manages to nail both.

‘She’s Just a Shadow’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes

Playing: Starts July 19, Laemmle Glendale; Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica