Today I had a few hours to kill, so I watched Uzumaki. Uzumaki is yet another post-Ring Japanese horror flick that probably would not have warranted American release if fanboys like myself were not creating demand for Japanese horror. Adapted from a manga series by the same name, Uzumaki (which means “spiral” or “vortex”) is about a town that is becoming increasingly influenced by, well, vortexes. Now, if you are wondering how a shape can exert influence over a town, welcome to the club. Sadly, the movie fails to answer this question; instead of dealing with difficult topics like personal relationships and back-story, the film stumbles through a mediocre introduction and then proceeds with mediocre gore. No explanation of the premise is ever attempted, and even if you accept the events that are occurring in the film, the events themselves are still nonsensical.
Technically, Uzumaki is a mixed bag. The acting is terrible, with a protagonist that seems like she’s trying too hard and a boyfriend stuck in empathy-less monotone for the entire film. Surprisingly, some of the editing is pretty well done: the director has tried to wrap the movie with little disconcerting references to spirals (including a few post-processing effects that are interesting), and some of the shots are very well composed. That said, there are also some awful scenes, including one that reminds me of a scene from Vertigo that may have worked in 1958 but looks very lame now. The sound design isn’t bad, but after a while everything seems to make the same sticky crackling noise.
The manga that spawned Uzumaki is probably a lot better than the movie. I suspect that the movie is a collection of scenes or short story snippets taken from the manga, which might explain why the movie makes no sense and the story seems to go nowhere. Overall, it’s an interesting rental if you are the type of person who likes looking for technical details (see how many spirals you can find in the regular scenes), but otherwise skip it.