Thursday, 8 January 2015

J-Horror January: Uzumaki (aka Spiral) (2000)

Uzumaki (aka Spiral) (2000)
Director: Higuchinsky
Starring: Eriko Hatsune, Fhi Fan, and Hinako Saeki
Running Time: 90 min

  I am unfamiliar with this one, it's based on a manga by Junji Ito, whose other work was adapted into the "Tomie" film franchise and I haven't seen any other work by director Higuchinsky (Long Dream, Tokyo 10+01).  It looks weird and creepy and it's about killer spirals so how could it go wrong?

  A young school girl named Kirie starts the film by telling the audience that something strange has happened to her town.  It then starts with Kirie walking home and a boy jumps out to scare her, luckily she knows him but he tells her that this is his new hobby and that he wants her to be his girlfriend.  Kirie lets him know that she is already seeing somebody, her childhood friend Shuichi.  The boy leaves after hearing this and tells her one day, she will be his.  
  Anyway, Kirie continues on her way to meet her boyfriend Shuichi and they meet up to talk.  While wondering around they find Shuichi's father video taping the spirals on the back of snails.  Shuichi explains to Kirie that his father as become obsessed with spirals or vortexes.  And he ain't just whistling Dixie, Shuichi's father has a whole room full of spiral/vortex paraphernalia in his work area that he sits and watches for hours on end.  However, he isn't the only one in town doing this.  Girls at school are wearing spiral hairdos and boys are turning into snails with spirals coming out of their backs.
  Eventually, Shuichi and Kirie find his dad dead, spiraled inside the washing machine.  At the funeral, his spirit becomes becomes a black tunnel and spirals into the dark spiral sky.  Is this the fate of the rest of the town and can Kirie and Shuichi somehow stop this spiral madness?  

  Yea...., I don't know about this one, this one might be a little too out there for me.  The story is interesting and very strange, that malicious spirals are slowly destroying this town but the characters are really under developed and there doesn't seem to be anywhere to go with that central idea.  The manga at the time wasn't finished and has a completely different ending, so it might be better than how the film turned out.
  Also, the pacing is so slow and it meanders all over the place.  It's always hard adapting material because with a film you usually only have 90 minutes to 120 minutes to recreate pages and pages of work and you can't fit everything in.  So, there are parts that may not make that much sense here or that are touched on so lightly, that it's a wonder why director Higuchinsky would but it in the film in the first place because it seems pointless, like the kid who likes to scare Kirie.


 However, the film isn't totally bad.  Higuchinsky does use some very good visuals and filming techniques to put you into his spiral world.  At times he pans 360 degrees to the scene and the prop department must have worked overtime on putting spirals on everything.
  Also, there is some good gore at times and the there is one scene where one of the characters turns into a spiral which is fascinating and creepy to watch.  Unfortunately, it's takes forever to get to these points in the story.

  I like the idea but I think that the execution could have been better.  The story is slow and at times unfocused, the characters motivations are unclear and the ending is sharp and has tacked on feel to it.  In spite of that though, there is some interesting cinematography and there are some very disconcerting scenes and disturbing elements to the film.  If you like weird off the beaten track films than you may dig this but if you're looking for something more conventional horror film than this really isn't for you.

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