Saturday, September 27, 2014

Film Review: Strange Circus (2005)

Strange Circus (Review)
Japan/2005
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...so effective, it's hypnotizing."

Novelist Taeko (Masumi Miyazaki) is writing an unusually disturbing tale about the torment a young girl named Mitsuko endured.

Strange Circus begins with the disturbing story of Mitsuko's childhood. A childhood filled with sexual and physical abuse from her father and mother. A twisted tale of abuse, incest, suicide and murder. The film then transitions to Taeko, who is writing the story about Mitsuko. Taeko is assited by Yuji (Issei Ishida), who believes the story may be Taeko's autobiography. Yuji sets out to unravel the mystery with his own intentions. The climax is as twisted as the rest of the film, and the ending is haunting. It's ambiguous and uncertain, but chilling and thought-provoking.

Strange Circus is a challenging film. It's a film that enters taboo territory without warning. It brings you into a disturbing and depraved world filled with gruesome violence and deviant sex. And, it's oh so hypnotizing. Sure, it's disturbing, but it's hard to take you're eyes off the screen. It blends surreal horror visuals with true-to-life horror to create an incredibly effective and engaging experience -- an unforgettable experience. And, due to it being so taboo, the story is refreshing and original.

This is definitely not for those who can't handle the "taboo" or those who have never even been near it -- I think it'll be shocking for those who are inexperienced. But, those who don't mind being tested, those who don't mind entering uncharted territory, and those who have ventured past Hollywood -- this is a twisted experience worth testing your limits. The only issue I had was during the second act, where it often slows down -- a bit of an inconsistent pace, I suppose.

Masumi Miyazaki dominates the screen with a superb and versatile performance. The rest of the cast offer great supporting performances. The film looks amazing thanks to its great cinematography and nightmarish set designs. The visual aspect of the film plays a large role, and it's thankfully all-around superb. The music helps create the ominous atmosphere -- it's spine-tingling and creepy, and memorable. The English subtitles on the Netflix Instant stream are great -- hardly any errors. Writer and director Sion Sono, who also helms Cold Fish, is a true visionary; more importantly, he's an effective visionary without compromise.

Overall, Strange Circus is a twisted horror-drama hybrid. It's a film with disturbing themes and even more disturbing execution. But, it's incredibly effective -- so effective, it's hypnotizing. It's a film that sets out to tell a story without comprising, and it does so. Finally, it's not a film for everyone -- if any of the themes I mentioned earlier already disturb you, this film's graphic presentation will scar you.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, graphic sex and nudity.

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