Uzumaki (2000)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Horror  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - Japan   |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Josh Ralske

Higuchinsky's Uzumaki is a visually imaginative and engagingly offbeat horror film, but its willful goofiness and unresolved story line doesn't offer much in the way of psychological resonance. Some critics have compared Higuchinsky's debut feature to David Lynch's Blue Velvet, and there are some superficial similarities. Both take place in a small town with more than its fair share of colorful characters, where a pair of relative innocents (Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Dern in Blue Velvet, Ericko Hatsune and Fhi Fan in Uzumaki), uncover the darkness lurking under the town's bucolic surface. But in Blue Velvet, the ugliness can be traced to an aspect of human nature, while in Uzumaki, the culprit seems to be some kind of bizarre natural phenomenon, which is intentionally left vague. The resolution is determinedly unconvincing. There's an enjoyable quirkiness to the film, and there are quite a few uneasy laughs. The script devotes ample time to developing the friendship between Kirie (Hatsune) and Shuichi (Fan). There's a sweet flashback scene in which Kirie watches a photo of the pair as children come to pixilated life. Visually, Higuchinsky effectively wrings every drop of potential out of the spiral motif. But all the intriguing buildup doesn't really go anywhere. Uzumaki has enough wit, flash, and gore to appeal to fans of comedic horror, but it's probably too silly to appeal to viewers outside that core audience.