Uzumaki, or spiral or whirlpool, is a Japanese horror film from director Higuchinsky. I had been wanting to view this title for awhile, and was finally able to track down a copy of it, two as a matter of fact. The other night, wanting to watch something on the bizarre side, I popped it into the player and sat down to enter another world.
Another world is what I got. The case claims that it is eerie enough to give Tim Burton nightmares. After watching it, I'm not sure I agree with that, but it does seem like something that would be right up his alley should an American remake ever take place, not that I'm asking for it.
The movie takes place in a small Japanese town where everybody knows everyone else. Suddenly strange things start to happen, everyone becomes infatuated with spirals. We follow Kirie, a young schoolgirl, as she begins to notice the strange happenings. Snails, storm clouds, fingerprints, pottery, anything that contains this pattern becomes a focal point. As the spell spreads, people start dying as a result.
It is a strange film that defies explanation. It sort of reminded me of The Cell. Not because of the subject, but because it seems to be more of an exercise in style over substance. The creepy mood slowly spreads over the viewer, and we too are drawn into the movie. It may seem like weirdness for the sake of being weird, and that may be true, but it still dragged me in.
The performances were good, primarily from the lead, Eriko Hatsune. She gives a nice balance between childlike wonder, and a maturity needee to deal with the strangeness around her. The other characters are more one note performances, although they all add to the puzzle. The father who makes pottery, the boyfriend trying to help his parents, his father who is infatuated with any spiral he finds, the schoolboy who exhibits snail like qualities, the schoolgirl who wishes to be the center of attention.
The problem with the movie, is that there is no reason given as to why everyone is so drawn to the spirals. Sure, there is mention of a curse, but nothing really follows on that point. Also when the end comes, it is left unfulfilled, no resolution is reached. Still I did enjoy the film despite the lack of explanation in the script.