miércoles, 9 de septiembre de 2009


Koji Yakusho (Shall We Dance, Lost Paradise) plays Kenishi Takabe, a police investigator on the case of weird serial killings going on where a person always murders another by carving a huge X on his/her chest. The weird thing about this is that each murder, although similar and almost identical, is perpetrated by a different man in each case who confesses quickly and without a struggle, but with little memory of what they’ve done. Enter Mamiya, a mysterious man who seems to be in a daze about where he is or what day it is. Takabe meets up with him and soon finds out he is, in fact, a master hypnotist who might be involved in influencing the murderers. Will Takabe be able to solve the case or will Mamiya’s influence get to him first? After all, the detective is married…
Remember the 1970’s Larry Cohen production, God Told Me To? That’s the movie that I kept remembering of that film while I was watching this one, and in many ways, this Japanese production is something of an update to the more psychological Japanese horror films of the 90’s. After all, a lot of the killers have no motive, and the police even think about the whole “God and the devil made them do it”. Kiyoshi Kurosawa is one of my favorite of the Japanese directors to come out of the last decade or so. His films are dark but also very realistic, and in the case of Cure, it’s no different. It reminded me a lot about his next film, Kairo, which I actually saw first, in that it seems to build up event after event to the point where it’s suspense and horror get to the breaking point. There are a lot of long takes, which might put off the typical viewer, but it all helps in building the main theme: the darkness inside the human being.
Our two leads are a big part of this: Takabe is the good guy, but once he meets the mesmerist Mamiya, his path starts going into that of a darker, more sinister side, something we wouldn’t have imagined happening to this type of character. If America ever tried remaking this, I couldn’t imagine in a commercial horror movie world being able to take it to such dark psychological extremes. It’s very frightening, but not in an exclusively Japanese way, but in a very horrible, universal way, a way a human being can be evil and without pity. The murders are all very hard to watch: a man hits a woman with a metal pipe before carving the X, a policeman shoots another cop in the head before carving the X, a doctor operates on a man’s throat in a public bathroom, it’s all very disturbing and, in the last case, gory (face-peeling, motherfucker!). I also like the fact that a lot of the hypnosis occurs with natural elements such as water and fire, and the simple act of conversation. I applaud Kurosawa for having the guts and talent to be able to make something that could be so simple, yet carry such an impact. Highly recommended.

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