Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Film Review: Cure (1997)

Cure (Review)
Japan/1997 
Format Viewed For Review: DVD (Homevision)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...can really give most horror films a run for their money..."

Police detective Kenichi Takabe (Koji Yakusho) investigates a string of bizarre and grizzly murders with odd similarities -- every victim has a large "X" carved across their necks and chests.

Cure continues as Kenichi and his team continue to investigate the murders until they are lead to an odd man (Masato Hagiwara) with extremely short-term memory loss, who seems to have been around before the murders occurred. However, he is not treated as a suspect because he didn't kill them, and as a witness, his constant memory loss becomes frustrating. The plot continues with some sharp turns into more madness, better left for your initial viewing. The ending is interesting; I enjoyed what it implied, but I wish it had clarified some of the question it left lingering...

Cure is a slow-burn crime thriller. It's grizzly and bizarre themes, its nightmarish symbolism, and violent murders can really give most horror films a run for their money, though. The plot is very engaging, thanks to its storytelling and camerawork, as well as the plot itself; and, you really have to stay engaged to absorb as much information as possible and for the most rewarding experience. Unfortunately, I felt like the film occasionally lost its grip -- it can feel uneventful and sometimes the very slow pace may make your mind wander. Trust me, it'll pay off if you can stick with it, although it's completely understandable if you occasionally wander off. Like I said, the film is often tense and brutal, but the masterfully crafted ominous atmosphere is really the anchor for the film. The film has some elements I feel are open-for-interpretation, and I like this approach.

Koji Yakusho is great as detective Kenichi -- his performance starts off strong and only gets better as his character delves into madness. Masato Hagiwara delivers an eccentric and occasionally creepy performance -- perfect for his character. The cinematography is great, and the camerawork is very engaging. The storytelling is clear, despite some plot points lacking clarity, and the editing is consistent. The pace, however, is occasionally too slow -- this is coming from someone who loves slow-burn films. The direction from Kiyoshi Kurosawa is fantastic in crafting the ominous atmosphere and telling a disturbing tale. The writing felt like it had some inconsistencies, but that may have been me wandering or my own misunderstanding.

Overall, Cure is a genuinely slow-burning crime thriller with a magnificently ominous atmosphere -- the film really gets under your skin and makes you think, which is a good thing. There are some flaws that I couldn't get over from my personal taste, but that doesn’t stop Cure from being a great film, at the very least. This is recommended for fans of slow-burn crime films, and films that really make you think -- for these fans, it's a rewarding experience.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some brief nudity.

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