Tuesday, 27 January 2015

J-Horror January: The Sylvian Experiments (2010)

The Sylvian Experiments (aka Kyôfu) (2010)
Director: Hiroshi Takahashi
Starring: Yôko Chôsokabe, Mina Fujii, and Momoko Hatano
Running Time: 94 min

  This is a film from director Hiroshi Takahashi, who was on the writing team for most of the Ringu/Ring film series.  This looks like this is his second feature but he has done a ton of writing for other directors. Let's see how well he can put his own ideas across into the cellusphere .

  Dr. Hattori and her husband, Dr. Hattori, are watching a 16mm film about an experimental brain surgery that has been found in the basement of an abandoned hospital.  That's where all the best movies are.  Their young daughters, Miyuki and Kaori join them to see what the hub bub is about and are immediately fixated on the white light that eventually envelopes the screen.
  Years later and long after their father's suicide, Kaori goes looking for her sister who has gone missing.  Unfortunately, Kaori doesn't know that Miyuki has joined a suicide club and is in the process of killing herself.  Luckily, one  the members of the suicide club is not really into suicide at all, but a plant.  When everybody in the van goes under and think they are dying from carbon monoxide, he and a team of doctors grab the unconscious bodies from the deadly van and load them into there not so deadly white van.  Then, they are then brought back to the basement of a hospital, told that they are dead and then have brain surgery done on them. Yea..?  
  However when Miyuki is taken to surgery, she discovers that it is her own mother, Dr. Hattori who is doing the experiments.  The doctor proceeds on her daughter, explaining to her that she is trying to discover if there really is an afterlife and that Miyuki taking one for science.  Unfortunately, the experiment goes too well and Miyuki begins to show signs of having some unnatural powers now.  So she and another experiment girl, Reiko escape the hospital.
  Meanwhile, Kaori is still searching for her sister, but she has the help of Miyuki's boyfriend, Dr. Motojimi, as well as the help from the police.  Kaori and Dr. Kotojimi eventually find out that Miyuki has been abducted by crazy old mom and has been experimented on, but that she is now lost and has some incredible powers.  Can these people find Miyuki before she and Reiko become to powerful to stop and they destroy the world or is it too late for mankind and it's sciences' fault... again? Damn you science!

  This was a little dull and maybe a little too high concept for me.  I like the idea that it's a mad doctor searching to find out if there is an afterlife but I found that the story gets lost and confusing at times.  I think that director Hiroshi Takahashi (Sodom the Killer) has maybe bitten off more than he can chew here and the story just isn't cohesive enough.
  Also there is a lot of wandering around scenes, which anyone knows from watching B-movies or anything from "The Asylum", that they are just padding for time.  There doesn't ever seem to be that much going on and no one ever seems that pressed for time to find Miyuki.  Endless walking and existential talking but nothing that intense or scary really happens until the end.

  The ending is certainly interesting and the epilogue is better.  Takahashi does know how to end a film well, he seems to hold the story tight to his chest and saves any of the action until very end but I don't know how patient the rest of the audience can be.
  Also, I did like the brain surgery footage bits.  It's kind of gruesome but not enough to save the whole film for me.

  Wasn't crazy about this one and found it kind of dull.  The story is interesting but I think it's wasted on wandering around and searching on Miyuki.  There are some disturbing touches and the ending is interesting but I think it's too little, too late.  So, if you want to experiment with other films from the writer of "The Ring", then this may not be the place to start.

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