A premonition. Erosion. Visitation. Transmigration.
There's a certain level of strangeness that only films that come out of Japan seem to be be able to attain, and Uzumaki, a.k.a. Spiral, has one of the most bizarre concepts I've ever encountered.
Directed by Higuchinsky and based on a manga created by Junji Ito, Uzumaki is set in Kurouzu Town, a place cursed not with your usual monsters, demons, or undead creatures. It's not even haunted by ghosts. Kurouzu Town is torn apart by "malevolent spirals". Yes, the curving pattern.
The trouble starts with residents becoming obsessed with spirals to the point where they're drawn to throw themselves down spiral staircases, or spin their eyeballs out of their sockets, or climb into a washing machine. Things gradually become stranger and stranger. The smoke from cremations fill the sky with spiral patterns. A girl's long, curly hair makes her hypnotic to others. Some residents start to become snail creatures - slimy, with spiral shells growing on their back.
It all builds up to... Well, I really couldn't tell you. I don't know what was going on in this movie at all.
I first encountered Uzumaki at a 24 hour horror marathon in 2002, one which had a great line-up and some cool guests: Evil Dead and Evil Dead II with Bruce Campbell in attendance, Dog Soldiers with two of the producers in attendance. Although the theatre's decorations were largely Uzumaki-themed, with lots of spirals, the movie received a pretty awful spot in the schedule, showing after 2am. Who wants to watch a slowly paced, subtitled film in the middle of the night, when they've already been sitting in a theatre for more than 14 hours? Not me, I wasn't able to. I slept through most of Uzumaki, waking up occasionally to see its oddball imagery. Spiral clouds, snail people, bodies twisting. Because of the venue and the glimpses I got of it, Uzumaki is a film that has always stuck with me. But it's not one I'm particularly fond of.
Uzumaki is very well made, if you love that Japanese brand insanity, it should be right up your alley. It's just not the type of movie I ever feel like watching, it doesn't do anything for me. I'm not the audience for most strange Japanese horror movies.
A viewing of Uzumaki for me is a slog, I just want to reach the end credits, but if it sounds appealing to you, you should definitely check it out.