Viewed – 08 December 2012. Blu-ray

I am only marginally aware of the movies of Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto.  I recall viewing his rather crazy, but visually amazing Tetsuo: The Iron Man some years ago and thought he was Japan’s answer to Cronenberg, what with his body-horror imagery.  This latest and for some long-awaited offering explores the slowly disintegrating sanity of one young woman, Kotoko whose severe paranoia and mental illness causes her to self harm and struggle not only to cope with everyday life, but also that of raising a child.


At the centre of this movie is a startling performance from actress Cocco (also co-writer), who appears to be a talented singer, expressed with how Kotoko finds peace by singing and dancing.  This is powerful and at times very disturbing, with Tsukamoto’s direction convincingly exploring the mind of a woman gradually going insane … complete with hallucinations, chaotic camera work and incredible sound design. Scenes of self-mutilation as well as violence towards a man who becomes infatuated with Kotoko, are tough to watch so if squeamish, approach this one with caution.

It’s horror but not in the traditional sense, and all the more powerful for it, with echoes of Takeshi Miike’s Audition at times. Occasionally the intensity bordered on unbearable and it does go to very dark depths to get its point across – but this was still an impressive examination of a very difficult subject.  One for those who like to moved, pushed and affected by their movies.

Verdict: 4 /5

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