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Uzumaki (JAPAN 2000)

Director : Higuchinsky
Cast : Eriko Hatsume, Fhi Fan, HInako Saeki Eun-Kyung Shin, Keiko Takahashi and Ren Osugi

The inhabitants of a small Japanese seaside town come under the influence of a strange force that causes an obsession with spiral forms. Kirie, a young schoolgirl, is the first to notice the strange behavior in friends and neighbors and is powerless to prevent the obsession that is overwhelming everyone around her. Eventually the townspeople begin descending on a self-inflicted and self-perpetuating spiral of terror.

by Edward Tang

The word Uzumaki means spiral, which is the main point of this film. An entire town starts to become obsessed with the spiral, which eventually leads to their untimely death. What succeeds is the plot of this film, one that I haven’t ever heard of and probably won’t hear of again. But the plot stays on this one subject, and even when one of the characters finds out some knowledge about what is happening, he is later killed in a horrible car crash. Almost like making the fact that the spiral’s point is to capture and destroy with known horrible results. The direction is crisp and that’s a complete fact. Even though the film has some truly interesting subjects, even the more subtle shots of spirals that simply fall into the background, give us something extra. As we are taken through this story, everybody is killed off. It’s almost like a drain effect, you put something in it, and it will consume it eventually, no matter how long it takes.

But the fact that this film is probably a turn off to most people is because the film is weird. From snail people, to large hair with spirals in it, hell even the plot has probably made others turn away. But for me, the visuals make this film successful. There’s a scene where a guy gets diced up, we never see it, but the way the shot is sold and the later expressions, you can tell that he was diced up. I must say that I didn’t know what to make of the film at first, it started out uber happy. Everybody was skipping and shit, then this plot just hit on with a spiral killer. Maybe a little quick for everyone. Me, I like my horror flicks short, you can tell whatever story you need to in an hour and a half. There’s also a hint of humor in this film, pretty dark but still it’s there. Hell this film even got me to laugh at a guy getting smashed by a car. But being a dark film that had a very serious tone, laughing was a gift.

The cast was okay, being okay shows that the film relied more on visuals than what the actors dealt out. The main character played by Eriko Hatsume didn’t seem to sad that a bunch of her friends were basically killing themselves in bizarre ways. As the rest of the cast, when they got crazy, I usually laughed. It wasn’t a believable situation for characters to be calm most of the time, and then to act bizarre and basically went on to shit all over the place (No shit, literally). Then the other main character was played by Fhi Fan, who played off Eriko’s character. Eriko seemed to be chipper all of the time, and she never looked sad. Fhi Fan on the other hand (played somewhat of her boyfriend) never showed any emotion, hell the guy’s father and mother died and still did nothing. It was a treat to actually show somewhat of a human side at the end of the film, as he basically turned into a spiral. Yeah. But Fhi and Eriko’s chemistry does work, and makes the film succeed even farther, rather than have two characters who just sit through their roles.

The film ends on somewhat of a different note from other such horror films. There isn’t some shit about saving the rain forrest or giving us some unexplained “surprise” that really makes no sense, it just ends. Everything was eventually taken in by this spiral, which was basically the film. I don’t think it really works as a complete horror film, there are some surprising elements and even some interests that are just plain out there. But I enjoyed this film because it was different and never took itself seriously (Could you take an eye in a windshield seriously? I couldn’t). I don’t believe I have seen Higuchinsky’s work since this film, but I can honestly say that he’ll have a tough time taking the image of missing fingernails out of my head ( a little different than what it sounds like).

This is a good film, because it is shot well and has an original plot. Well I’ll be damned! But lying in the fact that it can also make you laugh and still give you the feeling of “What the f*ck?”, it shines in every detail. Maybe not a classic, but certainly a good flick to get. I still haven’t seen a Japanese horror film that I like, aside from this guy right here, so I’m not convinced that I will ever like the genre. This is the best Japanese horror film I’ve seen and is more fun than you can imagine. Consider it a horror film that doesn’t use horror elements. You won’t shit your pants but you might just dance. Multiple viewings probably will make the film seem a little less impressive, and it probably won’t reach classic status, but it truly is a good piece of film, especially from a rookie director.


Plot : 4/5
Acting : 3/5
Entertainment : 4/5
Overall : 3/5

Notable Scenes
- The final montage of odd deaths

Buy this movie at YesAsia – Uzumaki

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