Tuesday, October 29, 2013
(I'm going to leave it at that since the way the story is told and its structure as a series of retold tales, or as a retold tale, will probably be spoiled if I went into any further detail of the plot. Certainly the shock value of some of the images will be lost if you knew what was happening.)
It's clear why Showtime balked at showing this film when it first aired the Masters of Horror series. It is disturbing and horrifying in ways that most American films dare not be. It is a slowly building tale that begins with words and then slowly builds with inference and implication before becoming more and more graphic. It pushes buttons that for many people should not be pushed or even gotten near. The horror and terror we felt is almost divorced from the plot, arising out of director Takashi Miike's decision to show us what would, in most films, never be shown. They are for the most part a horror of a bleak life choice on the edge of hell. As a tale of visceral horror its an incredible achievement.
The problem for me is that the film is very uneven. Once the stories begin to be told and retold and we get a sense of what exactly happened and is going on (more or less) the film begins to fragment and its internal logic begins to falter, the plotting doesn't have a great deal to show past a certain point so that the end seems to almost be an after thought, the denouncement is nothing special. And there is a nagging suspicion that with out the visuals there isn't much to the story.
Still I liked this a great deal, but I didn't love it. It is not for all people and anyone with a weak constitution need not bother viewing it. For fans of Takashi Miike its must see viewing. For everyone else its a personal choice.