Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Film Review: Tomie: Unlimited (2011)

Tomie: Unlimited (Review)
Japan/2011
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"It's bizarrely entertaining, I suppose."

Tsukiko (Moe Arai) is rattled when her older sister, Tomie (Miu Nakamura), returns home one year after her death...

Tomie: Unlimited is a very strange film. The story begins by introducing us to a set of characters; siblings Tsukiko and Tomie are the most significant, though. Anyway, Tsukiko is jealous of her sister's beauty and popularity, especially since Tomie has Tsukiko's crush wrapped around her finger. Out of nowhere, Tomie is impaled and killed – really, it's completely out of nowhere. Fast forward one year, Tomie shows up at her home, shocking Tsukiko and her parents. Although she seems fine, unscathed and human, bizarre events begin to occur and Tomie's monstrous side eventually emerges. Tsukiko finds herself struggling to cope with her sister's inexplicable return and strange powers. The film leads to an interesting ending, as well.

As a whole, that's probably the best way to describe this film: interesting. The story doesn't make much sense, which you'll likely notice from the introduction, but it somehow managed to keep me engaged from beginning to end. I suppose the bizarre plot points and uncanny visuals kept me hook for one reason or another. I was either genuinely interested in the progression or smirking from the strange ideas/visuals it proposed. I'm talking tumors (wounds?) with tongues, tongues that twist together to choke a victim, gargantuan heads that fill rooms, and much, much more. Some of it was eerie, some of it was hilarious – for the latter, I think some of the humor was intentional, though. Aside from the visuals, which are arguably more surreal than horrifying, there isn't much horror in this film, either. It's just very strange, which is enough to entertain, but does not cover its bigger flaws.

The acting is hit-or-miss. For the most part, Moe Arai performs well as the leading lady – not too stiff, not too dramatic. Miu Nakamura, who plays the sinister antagonist, is decent; her simpering laugh could use some work, though. The supporting cast is either stiff or over-dramatic. The film is otherwise technically decent. It looks okay and some of the music is good. The special effects are good, too, especially some of the practical effects. The computer imagery could use work, but it's not used so heavily throughout the film and it's far from the worst. The film is directed by Noburu Iguchi; Iguchi and Jun Tsugita share writing credits. The direction creates a very surreal and engaging experience, but the narrative feels very thin and underdeveloped. There are too many unanswered questions, some for the plot  contrivance and others for the ambiguous plot, and these questions could have been avoided through a more thorough and efficient story.

Overall, Tomie: Unlimited is a difficult film to judge. It has some glaring issues, like the underdeveloped characters and contrived storytelling, but it is also entertaining. At times, it is genuinely engaging thanks to some plot developments and some creative visuals; during others, the film feels like a "so bad, it's good" experience. It's bizarrely entertaining, I suppose. If you know what you're getting into, then this may be worth a rental. If you're looking for something actually horrifying, look elsewhere.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some partial nudity.

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