This is the way the swirled ends
Spirals all over the place signal intrigue and doom in the thrillingly strange Japanese horror flick "Uzumaki."
By GRADY HENDRIX
Q: What's black and white, slithers up walls, and looks like a Japanese
A: By the end of "Uzumaki," about half the cast.
From the gummy, red "SPLOTZ!" of its opening suicide leap that dumps a high
school student's kibbles out of his skull and all over the schoolhouse
floor, to the wet, creeping apocalypse of its entropic ending, "Uzumaki" is
the carnival ride that won't stop, it just keeps whirling, and the clowns
keep laughing, and your gorge keeps rising, until your synapses short out
and you go unconscious. Even the film itself keeps burning holes through its
celluloid and shredding sprockets as it tries to tear itself up off the
projector and bend its spine into an unbroken mobius strip that will trap
your eyes for eternity.
Dire words for a movie where everyone seems as sweet as cotton candy. Kirie
is a nice teenage girl, whose nice boyfriend, Shuichi, is actually a
quivering tower of compressed rage. He wants to escape their cursed
hometown. Cursed? It looks so nice! It's small, and peaceful, and everyone
rides bicycles, and it's separated from the rest of the world by a long,
black tunnel, and there's that lake that no one talks about, and Shuichi's
dad is obsessed with spirals, and wait a minute this isn't so nice after
all. What's the problem? The whole town is cursed .╩.╩. by spirals. And before the movie's over you won't be so big on them yourself. There's something cold and inhuman about spirals they aren't exactly shapes, but they aren't anything else, either.
|Directed by: Higuchinsky.|
Cast: Eriko Hatsune, Fhi Fan, Hinako Saeki, Keiko Takahashi, Ren Osugi..
In Japanese with English subtitles.
They're in our ears, and in the food we eat. Sometimes our bodies can be
twisted into spirals, and there they are dusted in the clouds (courtesy of
amazingly restrained CGI), and in escaping steam and smoke. And aren't snail
shells spirals, too? Before you know it, you'll realize that spirals are
everywhere. And they want to kill you.
"Uzumaki" started life as a horror manga (comic book) by cult author Junji
Ito, a former dental technician who spent too much time staring at the wrong
end of the drill. When the Japanese horror movie wave was launched with the
mega-success of "The Ring" (1998), producers eager for material bit into Ito's
assorted manga for ideas, and got a mouthful of slime instead. So far, Ito's
brain can be seen onscreen in "Tomie," "Tomie: Replay" and "Uzumaki," which
coupled him with first-time director Higuchinsky, and the two went together
like gasoline and matches. Higuchinsky's Lynchian deadpan is a perfect
palate-cleanser for Ito's concentrated grotesque, and the two craft a movie
that's slopping over with unwashed, sublimated sexuality, a rococo visual
style, and the sparkling sounds of tinkling tankling glockenspiels and
| ||When the Japanese horror movie wave was launched with the
mega-success of "The Ring", producers eager for material bit into Ito's
assorted manga for ideas, and got a mouthful of slime instead.|
"Uzumaki" inhabits a universe where sexual terror, body horror, and tabloid
TV stories that blare, "Human Snails Attack High School!" put the scares
back into surrealism. It's full of dark tricks, black jokes, and red
herrings, and it knows that what really scares us is when nothing makes any
sense anymore. Even a stand-up guy like Shuichi, who handles his dad's
insanity like a tough homework assignment, can become deeply unhinged when
all that liquid starts seeping out his pores and those evil spirals start to
suck him in.
According to "Uzumaki" the apocalypse won't arrive with a bang or a whimper,
but with a thick, mucousy squelch.
|MAY 3, 2002|
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