His latest film THE VIPERS HEX is arguably his most accomplished expression to date, and if stepping outside of his comfort zone to craft a drama isn't daunting enough, he shot the entire film in Japan... in Japanese no less! Needless to say there is a tremendous amount of tenacity within his new film, and by drawing influence from a multitude of sources, he has delivered an emotionally-charged story that pays homage to iconic Japanese cinema, while having the distinction of an “Addison Heath” movie.
His story follows Kiyo, a prostitute whose life has been haunted from birth. Falling pregnant to a client she fell in love with, she is expelled from her family and left to the mercy of a ruthless pimp. Abused and threatened, she is expected to have an abortion and forced to work the street. Desperate for salvation and yearning to be loved, she follows the father of her baby; a man with no desire to support her. In the grips of despair she takes solace in a spiritual guide; a snake-like spectre in the form of a woman, who leads her to a path of revenge and redemption. And thus lies an inspired film that overflows with sincerity and affection.
Following Heath's previous films Under A Kaleidoscope and Mondo Yakuza, his love for Japanese cinema is clear, and being a regular visitor to the country it was only a matter of time before THIS film happened. With his reliable lead actor, Kenji Shimada, and actress Saya Minimi on board for his latest venture, Heath took to Tokyo to cast the rest of the film and in doing so he afforded himself an instant authenticity. Newcomers include Yoji Yamada and Kei Miura, who deliver juxtaposing performances to equal effect, giving the story a nuanced subtext of light and dark, helping define the emotive character arc for the heroine, Kiyo.
Shot on location, often amongst the chaos of Tokyo's bustling nightlife, Heath's co-director and cinematographer, Jasmine Jakupi, manages to execute their most controlled and articulated cinematography to date. Their eye for detail and confident composition elevate their filmmaking to a new level and secure Heath's place as an auteur. His editing – snappy and well timed – is carefully calculated so to heighten the drama of Kiyo's plight, and with the exception of a few lengthy moments of indulgence, Heath captures the earnestness and emotion skilfully.
And to the most impactful component of all... the incredible score by The Screaming Meanies (aka Jesse Breckon-Thomas). It is a sensory overload. A synth-infused layer of emotion unto itself, which infects Heath's story and weaves its way amongst the narrative much like the viper of the film's title. Breckon-Thomas has been on board the Addison Heath train from the first station, and it has proven to be a valuable collaboration for both.
With ANOTHER Japanese feature film, The Shinjuku Five, in pre-production it would seem that there's no stopping the team at Black Forrest Films, and with a handful of scripts lined up and ready to go, it is guaranteed to be one hell of a ride!