Uzumaki | Chicago Reader

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Adapted from a horror comic by Junji Ito, this debut feature from Japanese music-video director Higuchinsky begins eerily but doesn't take long to descend into silliness. A high school girl (Eriko Hatsune) and her sweetheart (Fhi Fan) daydream about eloping, but the boy is troubled by his father, who's become increasingly obsessed with spiral shapes. Something is amiss in their small town: a fellow student plunges to his death down the open shaft of a spiral staircase; during a rainstorm another kid shows up late for class covered in slime and begins growing a snail's shell on his back; and the father finally spins himself to death in the family washing machine. Higuchinsky is so busy finding spiral patterns—funnel clouds, lollipops, curled hair, wheel-thrown pottery—that he never bothers to develop his characters. Ultimately the narrative reveals itself as a sort of spiral too: despite its portentous chapter headings (“Premonition,” “Erosion,” “Visitation,” “Transmigration”), it doesn't build to a climax so much as wind down to a stop. In Japanese with subtitles. 90 min.

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