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Uzumaki  (15 ratings)

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Submitted by RWB 
(Sep 08, 2004)

This is by far the least cerebral attempt at adapting anything to film I've ever encountered.

Plotless, pointless, humorless, intellectually vacant, wooden, bits and pieces of unconnected footage wound together. While conceptually there are great possibilities in translating the 3-book manga series to film, this isn't it.

An utter disappoinment.

Submitted by S.S. 
(Feb 15, 2004)

Director Higuchinskyís first film, Uzumaki (Vortex), is an unusual take on the horror genre. Based on the manga by horror-guru Junji Ito, it follows the story of Kurouzo Town. Kirie(Eriko Hatsune) is an average teenager, whose biggest worries are college entrance exams and the annoying boy that likes her. While on her way to meet her boyfriend Shuichi (Fhi Fan), she sees his father in an alleyway, filming snail shells. Shuichi informs her that his father has been acting strange lately, and suggests that they run away together. Thereís something wrong with this town. Kurouzo is haunted by the spiral.
Most people are probably confused at this point. Yes, itís haunted by spirals, vortexes, whirlpools, however you want to translate it. Itís an odd idea, but the unusual concept is what makes Uzumaki so good. It diverges from the common zombie/serial-killer plot for horror films. Spirals, man-made and natural, are everywhere. Well, if theyíre everywhere, how do you stop them?
Uzumaki is not a jump out of your seat scare fest. The viewer is instead forced to watch as something goes terribly wrong in this innocent small town, and no one knows what it is or how to stop it. The mundane becomes twisted and disturbing, re-evaluating everyday sights. Higuchinsky builds an amazing amount of tension, cutting away from horrific sights right before theyíre revealed and making the viewer grow increasingly nervous through numerous flashbacks. Oh, and just because vortexes are problematic doesnít mean this film is violence free. Itís not a splatter fest filled with pointless violence, but not much is held back. People donít look pretty after theyíve fallen off of a spiral staircase.
But Uzumaki isnít flawless, and unfortunately one of the biggest problems is the translation. The dialogue can get rather stiff. It seems that instead of adapting the script slightly, the translators opted for a literal translation. Japanese text onscreen is often ignored, when there could be subtitles. Small things, like using first names when characters refer to each other by their last, build up. Something was definitely lost culturally in the sub.
Uzumaki definitely isnít for everyone. Itís a very cerebral film. Surrealist horror-art is not an easy genre for most people to palate if theyíre just looking for entertainment. Viewers often end up disappointed by the lack of scares during the film. The biggest frights often come later, when the filmís disturbing visuals sneak their way into dreams. So if youíre a fan of horror that haunts and lingers instead of temporarily scaring you, or you just like amazing visuals, then you should definitely hunt down this film.



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