‘Uzumaki’ (うずまき), “Spiral” (2000) Movie Review
Japanese horror films sucker punch me in a different way than American films dealing with the same themes. This is one of those films that will dig into my brain and challenge my REM sleep tonight. Directed by Japanese director, Higuchinsky, Uzumaki is essentially a film about a curse that knows no earthly limits. The central protagonist, a high-schooler named, Kirie (Eriko Hatsune) encounters the ominous phenomena. Based on the Manga of the same title, the film breaks down to four acts: “A Premonition”, “Erosion”, “Visitation”, and “Transmigration”; all of which led the viewer into the film’s dizzying reality.
A spoiler-free review proves to be challenging if I let this review drift into my usual, excited multiple paragraphs, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. A Japanese horror film about a curse is hardly new ground, but it’s the way the story is told, that seeps into your inner ear. A spiral vision begins to appear with an onset of slugs. It seems every new day, the haunting spiral appears in new locations. The clouds, a potter’s spinning clay, an iris; even in the curls of a schoolgirl. The Medusa-like hair ended up being one of the best parts of the film’s presentation of evil.
Unlike American horror, there isn’t a cliché band of characters or scenarios. There is no slut, jock, nerd, or cabin in the woods; no blood-starved killer stalking the shadows. No one is safe in this film, and it’s up to you to decide why. Forced, supernatural body modification, haunting visions, and H.P. Lovecraft-style madness forces the clichés out of the way, and quite forcefully.
Director, Higuchinsky, has a unique vision, and he uses odd angles, odd green lighting reminiscent of the Manga it’s based on, and unfiltered human terror to capture his masterpiece. I feel like I’m going to give away even more if I keep blathering, so just request the DVD from Netflix and hide anything spiral in nature – I promise you’ll think about it after the film wraps. Several solid performances help seal the evil within, most likely causing denser American film fans to scratch their heads, but to those that love to think…and cringe, there’s a lot going on in Uzumaki.
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