Sorry everyone for my absence. Its been a while since I last posted anything but hopefully going forward, I will be posting more consistently. So, starting today, I am beginning a new series of articles called, “Hassan’s Forgotten Movies” where I will review and talk about films that are definitely worth your time but for some unfortunate reasons have slipped through the crack. Now, I am not going to talk about cult hits, since that would be counter to the whole forgotten aspect of the series. But rather, films that are either hard to watch here in US or are just so damn obscure that pretty much no one have heard of them. So, now that the whole intro is over, lets talk films shall we? because boy do I have a suggestion for you.
I am a fan of horror films and especially Japanese horror films. I think that there is a certain weirdness to them that is very hard to replicate in western horror. Part of that weirdness comes from their culture, which, lets be honest here is out of this world and I mean it as a compliment. Second is their attempts to tell stories that frankly will make you say, WTF! and lets start with a really weird one.
Uzumaki or Spiral is a 2000 Japanese horror film by Akihiro higuchi and is based upon the manga of the same name. The film tells the story of a small town of Kurouzu, which is cursed with supernatural and often horrific events involving spirals. Junji Ito, the author of the manga has built a reputation of taking mundane everyday objects and concepts and turning them into stuff of nightmares and while the film does an admirable job of portraying this.
Uzumaki isn’t a horror film in the most traditions of horror. There are no ghosts, no monsters nothing of that sort. Instead, the horror of Uzumaki comes from the small details in the film. In my opinion, a good horror film never should explain everything. Something should be left to debate, like the ending of Inception by Christopher Nolan and in this great tradition the film never really explains the mystery behind the events plaguing the town. Sure, there are attempts by the characters to explain what is happening to their village but its vague at best and does a very good job in keeping an air of mystery and suspense till the very end.
Uzumaki is not a perfect film. It is vastly inferior to its source material but I still highly recommend it. The film plays out as one long episode of Twilight Zone with enough plot points sprinkled throughout to make it seem like a coherent story. Events happen that are truly disconnected from each other except for the main protagonists, who are there so we could witness these bizarre and sometimes horrific events.
Uzumaki builds its atmosphere by its deliberate slow pace. Akihiro Higuchi did a brilliant job in building tension and creep factor by using purposeful camera angles and muted colors, the film is rather uneasy to the eyes.
Despite it’s narrative flaws, Uzumaki is a fascinating film. It is a film that only could have come out of Japan. It is surreal, spooky and often times awkwardly funny and unlike the recent trend of Japanese horror films which rely too much on the cliched horror tropes of Japanese cinema, Uzumaki uses a novel idea and makes a very strange film out of it and it should be viewed by any fan of J-Horror or simply fans of good cinema.
Uzumaki is available on DVD through amazon and while you’re at it. don’t forget to check out the manga on which the film is based upon. Its very good.