Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Cure - Filmhouse - 4/3/11

The first in this years Japan Foundation season is a bona fide cult classic.

Unavailable on DVD in the UK this serial killer, horror, thriller from director Kiyoshi Kurosawa was the first in what was to become a glut of J-Horror to flood the UK market and to spawn myriad remakes and re-imaginings.  While that period (starting in 1998, one year after "Cure" with "Ringu") brought a handful of brilliant films including "Ringu", "Ju-On", "Dark Water" and "Audition" alongside some films that didn't feature girls with long dark hair like "Gohatto", "Ichi the Killer" and "Zatoichi" it soon became formulaic as J-Horror and East Asian cinema ate least it did here in the UK as uninspired media types bought the same film over and over again (give thanks to Third Window Films for bucking that trend!).

"Cure" is deliciously dark, deranged and demented while never straying too far away from being convincing.  A trail of dead bodies all killed in the same gruesome manner, but all at the hands of otherwise normal and completely unconnected people, begin to pile up in Tokyo leaving the police completely baffled.

Each body is mutilated with a bloody x carved into the chest and each of the perpetrators is found in close proximity to the victim but utterly unaware of why they have committed the crime.

When the police discover the link that ties the murders together it is a young drifter with a neat line in amnesia and all round weird things shift  from serial killer flick to supernatural/horror and things move from horrible to weird.

Kurosawa manages to juggle the various elements of the story beautifully and each of his characters is given room to develop where other directors may well have sacrificed character for cliche and fake blood.  Perhaps this is because the film is based on a novel written by Kurosawa himself and so his relationship with the characters is more intimate than it would have been in the hands of someone else.

Koji Yakusho delivers a brilliant performance as the put upon detective charged with solving the case and his role in the films chilling finale is crucial.  Unlike many Japanese stars Yakusho will be familiar to Western audiences thanks to his performances in "Babel" and "Memoirs of a Geisha".

There is no doubt that "Cure" is a very dark film and one that will leave you feeling unsettled long after the final credits role but it is also beautifully shot, wonderfully scripted and brilliantly directed...what more do you want from any film?

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