Here we are day 20 already of this horror month of subversive madness! The days are coming to a deep and dark closing, and the madness is something that must be crazier and crazier to think about, look at the jump we made here! Since James Rolfe started a new series of films to focus on, and since he chose the Alien series (you can watch his review on ‘Alien’ (1979) in this link), that gave me a free spot for me to jump and do a review on any horror film that I want. Since I like keeping things in order, and since the last film we reviewed was released in 1995 (and no horror films of note in my list were made in 1996), I jumped to this japanese horror of 1997. Tomorrow we shall start our travel through the rest of the three Alien films that I haven’t seen yet, but today we have a treat.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa is one of those filmmakers that I always heard about but never saw nothing of, mainly because of either unavailabilty or just mixed backlash towards practically everything that he made. It was one or two months ago that I saw my first movie directed by him, ‘Kairo’ (2001), translated as Pulse in english when it was released around the world, this film even got remade, but I heard so many things about how much crap the film was that I’m better off not knowing what kind of sin was commited, specially after seeing how good and enigmatic ‘Kairo’ (2001) was. There was also an ambivalence towards the end as I finished it, it was fear, I feared that Kiyoshi Kurosawa managed something here that was unachievable in any way, that this was going to be his pinacle, no one could make anything more original and that came out of nowhere. There was a sense of a larger mythology that was barely scratched in the length of the film, a film with such deeper consecuences that most people couldn’t possibly understand (and hence, hate it for those particular reasons that make it great), the opening images, the ocean, the waves, the sea (much like in ‘Film socialisme’ (2010) years later) represent the depth of the world around ‘Kairo’ (2001), the mystery that is covered by the wild things of nature, how ghosts seem to find the best way possible to travel to our world, and how they long so hard to be and exist in it, that they are able to make humanity dissapear. I thought this had came from nowhere, now I know it came from ‘Cure’ (1997).
‘Cure’ (1997) surely came from nowhere, Kiyoshi until that point had made a lot of films, but nothing mainstream or highly regarded, he was mostly known as the director of a series of TV movies starring a similar common character between them (more than 5 of these movies were made in the 90’s prior to the filming of this film). The film doesn’t follow a trend, and it even precedes the mindfuck horror films that begun their craze the next year with the most famous of them all, ‘Ringu’ (1998), if at all, it should referentiate the mystery novels that Rampo Noir and other more famous and less known writers were churning out every now and then in those years and before that. This is an age where the manga was beginning to become a more international asset, and it is at least contemporanean to the famous anime TV series (based on a manga) called Detective Conan, one of the most interesting (if not a bit repetitive) mystery series out there that really challenged the intelligence of the viewer. This obviously has a foundation in the most famous mystery novels of Japan (as this is also based on a novel, but written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa himself), where the supernatural and the scientific is mixed with the bloody horrific murders that take place with an horrific and yet understandable technique. But this movie goes beyond those boundaries, it manages to achieve a darkness that is within, much similar to the one achieved in ‘Kairo’ (2001), but here is where it comes from, here is the origin of the darkness of the soul of the human being that is able to eat up the entire humanity.
The movie starts as a series of murders are going on, the mystery is that they always catch the killer, but every time the dead person has an X carved in their neck, cutting all the blood vessels from that part of the body, killing them instantly, and with no exception every murder has that mark, as if it was made by the same person, but every time it’s someone different, someone who usually doesn’t have a strong reason to do it, but they do it the same, and they know they’ve done it, but can’t understand why (or sometimes their deeper thoughts were regarding that person). Then we are presented with a man that aimlessly roams a beach, he encounters a person and constantly asks who they are and who he is, it seems that he has a severe case of memory loss, it’s maybe one of the saddest things I’ve seen in a long time, the way that his mind doesn’t seem to capture the single memory not only about who he is and what he’s doing, but also about what he did a minute ago or what he was just asked, then we see that this memory-less man has a strange attitude towards the guy who wanted to help him and house him, and the next day we see how he kills his wife and then tries to kill himself. Now we understand what the movie’s doing, it’s not only pointing out towards the culprit immediatly (aka, this is not a mystery thriller that will keep people on the edge trying to discover who’s doing what) but it’s also trying to point towards a reason behind the making of the film, how the torture of the mind is the real crime here.
That is given a lot of strength due to the fact that the wife of the detective that is trying to find a reasoning behind all the Xs in the necks of the murders is mentally ill, and maybe the most strong moments of the film comes from the damaged relationship that they still maintain together out of pure pity and love that they still feel for each other, a feeling that seems to dissapear as the film progresses, and you feel it so close and deep in your soul that it manages to hurt. Then the film gets crazier when it starts featuring explanations, logic ones at that, regarding how psychology and hypnotism works, how as a therapy and as a weapon is one of the most dangerous things out there in the hands of someone who wants to demonstrate that has the power to practically kill one half of the world and put in jail the other half, that’s someone who wants to destroy the world around him not because of his destroyed mind, but because he wants to achieve a purity of the soul of those around him, to manage to discover who’s who really deep in their soul, and as much as we hate the methods that he uses, that’s what he manages, and that is a sad look at what the viewpoint of society and humanity the film has, we’re all capable of murder, we only have to have an excuse for it, and that excuse can be as simple as the gesture of a commanding hand signaling an X in the air. How simple is that?
This might sound like a masterpiece review, and maybe the film is a masterpiece, but just like with ‘Kairo’ (2001) I wish that I could see it in a big screen to really capture everything that they were going for, and if it works visually as much as I think it does. For now, the film is really adicting and analyze-worthy, and I wish that most people would see it and capture what I’m feeling when I see this movie, it’s one of the best that I’ve seen in this month of horror, and I’ll need a rewatch if I’ll consider this a masterpiece.