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Tomie: Unlimited Review


From those responsible for Zombie Ass: Toilet of Death...comes another crapfest (although not in the literal sense)...

Tomie: Unlimited review...

The surreal stylised start of Tomie: Unlimited is characteristic of Noboru Iguchi's films (2008's Machine Girl and 2010's Mutant Girls Squad). From the slow-motion union of two sisters, Iguchi quickly gets the blood flowing when a metal cross from a construction site falls and impales big sis, Tomie (Miu Nakamura).

A year after the accident, Tsukiko (Moe Arai) is still having hideous nightmares and her parents are shown ritualistically singing “Happy Birthday” to their deceased daughter, reflecting on where she'd be in her life if she were still alive. Seconds after finishing this bizarre memorial, the doorbell rings and Tomie's ghost matter-of-factly says “I'm your sister”.

While parents blubber and Tsukiko suffers from shock, all the returned Tomie can say is “I'm starving”. This reincarnated Tomie looks the same but is a crueler somewhat more demanding version, smashing a picture of herself, encouraging her father to savagely whip Tsukiko with a copper cable and ordering her parents around: “I'd rather have caviar or foie ggras.” When Tomie suggests the sisters bath together, Tsukiko realises the revived Tomie is a “monster”. Her parents however, are deluded by her return and easily suggestible – we're shown Tomie's deranged father obscenely licking and smelling her hair.

Official poster for Tomie: Unlimited...Unlike Tomie, Tsukiko finds beauty “in the most ordinary things” and suffers from low self-esteem, believing her only skill to be photography and that she should have died in Tomie's place. Like her sister, she lusts after the school Judo champ, Toshio, but he only has eyes for the ever-popular Tomie. Before the accident, she's shown adoringly telling Tomie: “You'd look wonderful even if I was a poor photographer”. Tomie's strange response is suggestive of later events: “If you were jealous of me, how would I look in the pictures?”

With Tomie's return Iguchi and writer Jun Tsugita (Mutant Girls Squad and the tellingly titled forthcoming Zombie Ass: Toilet Of Death), fall-back on previously well-explored special effects with blood spouting from wounds, a blood splattered dinner table, fountains of blood and a severed talking head mounted on a plant sprout being fed caviar. Some of their better more inventive scenes include a caterpillar of Tomie heads, a lunch box filled with mini Tomie heads complete with giant snake-like tongues and tumour like neck growths with faces - one even disturbingly sings “I love you all”. A scene where a blood-drenched Tsukiko's mum offers to fix her lunch in an attempt to continue the daily routine is also more effective than most of Tomie's family interactions.

Aside from Iguchi and Tsugita's familiar red theme, Tomie has a few inventive camera shots, including a sequence where Tsukiko's dropped camera bounces around taking pictures of the impaled girl. Black and white flicker stills form the opening credits and eye close-ups are used throughout. Unnecessary flashbacks to the accident do little but bolster the film's already short running-time and the sound of continuous random manic laughter becomes rather tiresome.

Bearing in mind Tomie: Unlimited is part of a long-running series based on Junji Ito's manga series, expectations are already low. Unfortunately the introduction of a well-known creative writing and directing team does little to help the franchise. Occasionally poor special effects (the garden shears head severing comes to mind) are complemented by equally unconvincing performances from some of the cast (Tsukiko's supposedly terrified friend) and Tomie feels like little more than a badly played-out ludicrous family drama with thriller elements. A terrible red herring twist is thrown in before Tomie descends into a surreal bloody nightmare world and Tsukiko has a final nonsensical realisation that brings with it an inexplicable inner peace. Weird flashback montages and a strangely subtitled “flower petals” song do little to help. Undoubtedly, in watching Tomie: Unlimited, viewers undergo more of an ordeal than its lead.

1 star

Special Features:

•    Interview with Director Noboru Iguchi

•    Trailer

Aside from the almost obligatory inclusion of the Trailer, Tomie: Unlimited's only other special feature is laboured and amateurishly edited. Hardly the most enigmatic of speaker's, Noboru Iguchi gives viewers a lengthy career history full of long-winded question answers and after-thoughts.

Told by the interviewer they're not looking for too detailed an answer, Iguchi ignores this request and proceeds to expose some unsavoury obsessions in describing the highs and lows of working in adult film, with particularly cutting remarks about amateur porn actresses. From this outpour, we unfortunately discover, he has a soft spot for enemas, defecation, scatology and Japanese eroticism/sadomasochism. After filming so many naked bodies, he also admits to now bizarrely suffering from a phobia of nudity.

Quite unnecessarily, he also outlines some of his on-running themes and images, confirming he has a disturbing interest in high school adolescents in sailor uniforms, his involvement in the Tokyo splatter scene and that he “often makes scenes involving things coming out of people's bottoms”. Iguchi manages to make the actress playing Tomie sound almost as eccentric, describing her practicing astral projection. Although many of Iguchi's admissions are slightly embarrassing, his honesty is to be commended - he actually admits some of Tomie's best scenes weren't his doing and thankfully resists the temptation of wearing the loin cloth he normally solely wears to film festivals.

2 stars

Director: Noboru Iguchi
Writer: Junji Ito, Jun Tsugita
DVD Release Date: January 23 2012
Running Time: 85 mins
Certificate: 18
Starring: Moe Arai, Miu Nakamura


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