Upon announcing that they would not be airing notorious celluloid outlaw Takashi Miike's unrelenting and uncompromising entry into Mick Garris' oft-tepid Masters of Horror series due to concerns over its extreme content, pay-cable giant Showtime caught quite a bit of flack for flinching, and rightly so. Touted from the onset as a series that would allow filmmakers complete creative control over their vision while allowing them the rare opportunity (at least as far as horror anthology shows are concerned) to work outside of the increasingly stringent restraints of network television, the so-called "Masters" would ultimately go on to prove just how much value they truly placed on artistic freedom by censoring Dario Argento's expectedly gory entry and refusing outright to air Miike's episode in America. Ultimately relegated to a world premiere on the United Kingdom's Bravo network, Miike's Imprint is every bit as shocking, original, horrific, and audacious as one would hope for from a series bold enough to proclaim that it was presenting the works of the "Masters" of an entire genre. Stated simply, Imprint is horror in its purest and most powerful form. A surreal and devastatingly horrific journey to an island hell that seems to have bubbled up from the deepest pits of the underworld after being deemed too morally corrupt by Old Scratch himself, Imprint tells the tale of an American journalist named Christopher who has returned to an island populated by sadistic whores and saki-swilling murderers to rescue the prostitute he loves and spirit her away to America so that the pair may live happily ever after. His return has come too little too late, however, and upon discovering that his love seems to have been swallowed up by the scourge that has engulfed the land, Christopher's quest to seek out the truth behind her disappearance quickly leads him down a pitch-black path of torture, abortion, alcoholism, abuse, incest, deformity, and lies -- all punctuated by flinch-testing footage that will no doubt be considered shocking to even the most seasoned Miike fan. It's obvious that Miike took the "no restrictions, no compromises" mantra of the Masters of Horror to heart, and one would think that Garris and company knew what they were in for when they hired the man behind such notorious shockers as Audition and Ichi the Killer. Though the dialogue in Miike's first English-language production is frequently stilted and often awkward, the strange vocal cadence of the performers actually ends up helping to maintain the off-kilter atmosphere of the film by placing it in a world that seems to exist somewhere far outside the natural realm.
by Jason Buchanan review