Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gemini (1998)

Shinya Tsukamoto, the man behind the Tetsuo films, Snake Of June, and Tokyo Fist takes on the Edogawa Rampo story and turns in one of the most perfect marriages of sound and image I've ever run across, not to mention one of the creepiest films I've seen in a very, very long time.

Yukio is a famous doctor who won fame treating the war wounded. He is much in demand by the wealthy, and so has little time for the poor in a nearby slum where the plague has been running rampant. Yukio is also recently married to a young woman he met by the riverside and who is suffering from amnesia. Soon a dark figure is lurking about, and after Yukio's father dies under mysterious and unnatural circumstances, things begin to take a turn for the worse.

What can I say? This is a creepy little thriller that will haunt you and keep you feeling off balance. Every shot seems to have been perfectly designed for maximum beauty. The soundtrack is a wonderful mixture of sound and music calculated to give the sense of things being not right. The effect of the sound plus the image is a sense of dread and unease even when there is nothing out of the ordinary in the frame. Few thrillers or horror films have ever been able to make you feel so off by doing so little.

Adding to it all is the plot which I'm told takes the Rampo story as a jumping off point, and then spins it out with new complications. Give it big points for its ability to keep you guessing as to what is going on, even if you know what's going on. Having read about the film I knew what was happening, and yet I still had to entertain numerous other possibilities. This movie masterfully makes you wonder about what is real and what is not.

I really liked this movie a great deal. I don't know if that's fully on its own terms, or simply that it's not another Japanese or Asian horror film with a long-haired female ghost lurking about; honestly I don't care because the film is just so damn good it wouldn't really matter anyway.

See this movie.

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