Creepy (Japanese Film Festival)
Hidetoshi Nishijima, Yuko Takeuchi, Teruyuki Kagawa, Haruna Kawaguchi, Masahiro Higashide
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“… a plodding, moribund affair…”
Following a disastrous hostage situation, police detective Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) retires from the force and takes a position as a criminology lecturer at a university. Still, when an old colleague asks him to look at a cold case involving a missing family, his curiosity gets the better of him. Meanwhile, his wife, Yasuko (Yuko Takeuchi) is drawn into the orbit of their odd neighbour, Mr Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa), whose off-putting eccentricities may conceal darker, more threatening proclivities.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s procedural thriller is a plodding, moribund affair that spends far too much time setting up its pieces on the board before arriving at an oddly anticlimactic and predictable resolution. There’s some fun to be had with Kagawa’s delightfully unhinged performance as the creepy Nishino and the occasional strikingly macabre imagery, such as bodies being vacuum-sealed into clear plastic laundry bags, but they’re too few and far between to really maintain interest. The area of inquiry here seems to be the darkness that festers in mundane suburbia, the sort of theme handled dexterously by the likes of David Lynch in Blue Velvet, but in Creepy it never lands with any impact. Kurosawa shoots almost everything in bright light and a subdued, almost invisible style, but this doesn’t work to contrast with and heighten the violence and horror when it finally comes – its just soporific.
The film’s length does it no favours, either. It’s possible that there’s an ideal, 100 minute version of this story that would be an affecting and effective psychological thriller, but the two-hours-plus film that we’ve got is just a slog.
Creepy is playing at the Japanese Film Festival, which runs in Canberra until October 23, with other cities to follow For more info, head to the official site.