Cast – Eriko Hatsune, Fhi Fan, Hinako Saeki, Eun-Kyung Shin, Keiko Takahashi, Ren Ohsugi, Den Den
Release Year – 2000
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Like nearly half of the films I have reviewed, Uzumaki is a flick I had heard many good things about, but it literally took me years to get my hands on it. I knew this watch would be an odd one, but I expected it enjoy it nonetheless…and I did. With a plot I have never seen before that left me guessing throughout its 90 minute runtime, Uzumaki is a unique and enjoyable watch for fans of Asian horror.
When she witnesses her boyfriend’s father mysteriously videotaping a snail on the side of a building, Kirie thinks nothing of the matter. Little does she know, a plague of possession is slowly spreading throughout her town, a possession with a strange connection to anything involving a spiral. As the possession spirals(I had to) out of control, Kirie and her boyfriend Shuichi race to save their families and themselves from this mysterious plague.
Aside from Adam Green’s Spiral(which has nothing to do with spirals), I cannot think of another film that makes reference to those swirly looking things. I will admit right off the back that I did expect this film to be much better than it came off, but that was due to the many reviews I read mentioning this film to be near-perfect. Either way I enjoyed it, and that is what ultimately counts.
The storyline regarding the mysterious spiral plague consuming Kirie and Shuichi’s town was an interesting one for me, mainly because I enjoy such films involving plagues and nowhere-to-run scenarios, and the unique usage of the spirals just added to my enjoyment. I was very pleased to see that this film came in at a solid 90 minutes, mainly because numerous Asian horror films follow this template of delivering a 120 minute watch regardless of whether or not they have the subject matter for it. Uzumaki paced well, and its oddball story kept me constantly guessing as to what would happen next. We get some good moments of horror written in, although I did expect much more from the horror department in this one. The horror that we did get was good, I just felt that there was not enough of it and that the film’s writers did not take full advantage of the unique story.
Director Hugochinsky(born Akihiro Higuchi) did a good job delivering this film to us, with surprisingly good cinematography and camerawork for his debut feature film. The atmosphere is dark and gloomy, perfectly placed for the horrific events that occur throughout the film, and Hugochinsky does not shy away from the gore and live-action FX when it is called for. We do get a fair amount of decent CGI thrown in here and there, but I did not balk much at it because the scenes it came with would have been very hard to accomplish with live-action FX. We get the usual performances from our Asian actors, which often come off cheezy to us ignorant foreigners but I have learned to love and appreciate their acting styles. Hugochinsky’s execution of the horror involved was good, and he made the most out of the horror provided, albeit less horror than I wished to see for such a cool film.
Overall, Uzumaki is a truly unique Asian horror film with a storyline that bleeds creativity along with nonsensical elements. The film paces well and delivers some good horror when called for thanks to good direction/execution, resulting in a memorable Asian film that while lacking in the scares department should result in a memorable watch in the end.