One fine sunny Saturday afternoon I had sat down at the Dead by Dawn festival with fest director Adele Hartley to check out the (then unseen by either of us) Japanese horror flick 'Hypnosis'. Two hours later we were both grinning with delight at what was to be one of the highlights of the festival.
Needless to say I wasted no time whatsoever chasing down a copy of the film on DVD to re-visit and again enjoy one of the best films to come out of the east in some time. But would the transition to the small screen retain the celluloid memories...
'Hypnosis' is a straight down the line horror thriller that involves a series of bizarre suicides that have one thing in common, before dying each of the victims last words uttered in fear are 'green monkey' !!
Aging detective Sakurai takes on the case with the help of a young psychoanalyst Saga, together they soon realise that the deaths may actually be linked to someone using hypnosis. Their only useful evidence in the case is the one surviving link to the deaths - a young schizophrenic girl they find called Yuka. (UK readers will find a slightly amusing distraction in Yuka's repeated use of the Colin Hunt stylee phrase 'I'm an alien!). As the case slowly unfurls they find that they are all in more danger than they ever could have imagined.
'Hypnosis' is one of the finest slices of genre cinema to come along in a long while, from the suckerpunch stylish opening scenes to the wickedly humorous finale, the film delights throughout. The direction is just lovely at times, reminiscent of early Argento with rich use of colour and delightful framing of shots and even the opening titles kick ass in a very modern Hitchock style, great!
In fact, the production all-round is bang on with a great script and some equally engaging performances by the cast (with particular kudos going to detective Sakurai who steals the show). If you've checked out films like 'Ring' and 'Uzumaki' and think you've seen the best on offer then you may want to check this one out to see what is (for me at least) the best Japanese genre flick around at the moment.
But what of the disc itself, well it's mixed feelings about this one. The widescreen image on this release by Era looks great, nice and sharp and very vibrant when it comes to some of the deep colour hued scenes. But it is when you stick the films english subtitles on you'll be sorely disapointed. As the film progresses you'll soon realise that the subtitles are racing ahead of the dialogue in the movie, which means you'll be reading what's about to happen before it happens! Believe me, this is seriously annoying, especially when you get to the latter stages of the movie and completely puts a dampener on your viewing enjoyment. A shame when I loved this film so much, though this fault is on the Region 3 disc from Era and there is a Region 0 disc available also, so it may be worth checking that release out to see if the problem has been corrected.
Extras-wise, it's the usual story - a teaser trailer for the film and some bio pages. Not much to sing about, but I suppose it's the great film we're here for anyway!
So, a stunning film and a lovely looking disc, it's just a shame about the subtitling problem.
|Released by Era|
|Region '3' NTSC - Rated Cat IIB|
|Ratio - Letterbox|
|Audio - Dolby 5.1 Surround (Japanese)|
|Subtitles - English, Chinese|