Combustible Celluloid
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With: Eriko Hatsune, Fhi Fan, Hinako Saeki, Shin Eun Kyung, Keiko Takahashi, Ren Osugi
Written by: Takao Nitta, based on the manga by Junji Ito
Directed by: Higichinsky
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Running Time: 90
Date: 02/10/2000

Uzumaki (2000)

4 Stars (out of 4)

The Swirl Can't Help It

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A small Japanese seaside town falls under a curse involving "uzumaki," or spirals. A friend's father (Ren Osugi) becomes obsessed and begins videotaping them. A schoolboy begins acting -- and even looking -- like a snail, with its spiral shell. One way or another people start dying and their deaths somehow all involve the "uzumaki." Only schoolgirl Kirie (Eriko Hatsune) and her best friend (and potential boyfriend) Shuichi (Fhi Fan) are unaffected. But for how long? Directed by Higichinsky, this freaky Japanese horror film uses all kinds of physical cinema techniques, such as shock cuts, flash cuts, dissolves, skip frames and superb digital effects in a constant effort to keep the film alive and spinning.

Occasionally it employs a William Castle-like device of digitally swirling a small spot in the corner of the frame -- and you may not even notice. Some scenes are so unbearably spooky that they give you that cold, clammy feeling and make your stomach drop out from under you, as if in a terrible nightmare. It's one hell of a brilliant horror film with an original idea and style to spare.

DVD Details: Elite released this must-see film on a new Region 1 DVD in a clean, beautiful transfer (but is it supposed to have that green tinge to it?) Extras include optional English subtitles, a very good behind-the-scenes featurette and the complete video footage of the poor father character.

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