JULY 16, 2007
The very first J-Horror film I ever watched was called Parasite Eve (Parasaito Ivu), which I didn’t care for, due to the film’s severe lack of light RPG battles and weapon upgrading. And even though I couldn’t remember a goddamn thing about it, I had severe déjà vu when watching Infection. A quick check of the IMDb revealed that, huzzah! Same director (Masayuki Ochiai)! Man likes his hospitals.
This one’s a lot better though. In fact it’s probably one of my favorite of the sub-genre. For starters, there is only ONE spooky little kid in the whole movie, and he’s not a ghost or anything, he just has a penchant for wearing a mask of that beckoning cat’s face. Also, while it doesn’t make any sense in the traditional way, it’s never entirely incoherent, nor do I feel stupid after watching it (like I did after Tale of Two Sisters).
The concept of a virus that spreads with guilt is an intriguing one, and one almost wishes the film had gotten remade, as the American version would likely explore the this notion in greater detail. Some of the back story relies a bit too much on coincidence, but that’s easily forgivable.
More importantly, it’s actually pretty unnerving. Of course, hospitals are naturally terrifying, what with the knowledge that you’re probably in the same room where someone has died, not to mention the possibility that Michael Moore may be nearby, ready to film you and then re-edit it to fit his purposes. But Ochiai one ups the inherent terror by proving himself to be a master of misdirection, with creepy goings on appearing in the corners of the frame (despite a 1.85:1 ratio, this film would definitely suffer on a pan and scan version), and editing away from a scene before the “corner monsters” do something cheesy (or get discovered by the protagonists). Despite my love of Jerry Bruckheimer, Jim Steinman, and the Shocker soundtrack, I am actually a big fan of subtlety when it comes to horror movies, and it’s nice to see an attempt at one that actually succeeds (unlike, say, Wind Chill, which couldn’t even manage to climb its way UP to subtlety).
There’s also a scene with a nurse, who has gone crazy from the virus, reaches into a bucket full of discarded medical supplies, claiming they were still usable. As she pulls some out, we see two or three needles have gotten stuck in her arm in the process. Much like Saw II, this is an incredibly unnerving sequence, but the difference is, where Bousman’s film had a giant fucking PIT full of the things, Ochiai manages the same effect on the viewer with just a handful.
The only real flaw in the film was the music editing. Several cues are simply (and jarringly) silenced as the scene switches to another. It occurs several times over the course of the film. Maybe that’s how you Asians like your music, but here in America, we are supporters of the fade out!!!
Otherwise, speaking as someone who generally has little appreciation for Japanese horror films, I wholeheartedly recommend this one. So, if you like J-Horror, you’ll probably think it stinks. I dunno
What say you?