June 02, 2006

TOMIE: REPLAY (2000) - decapitation, shock, horror


TOMIE: REPLAY (2000)
Region 1 US DVD (Adness)

The curse of the cornershop carrier bag continues

Presumably not wanting to be saddled with the title Tomie 2, the strangely named Tomie: Replay injects a needed round of solid shocks in this, the second cinema outing of the series.

Centred around a seriously underlit hospital, it begins with a ghastly operation, where Tomie's head is cut out of a little girl's stomach! Afterwards, almost everyone who took part in the operation disappears, including the surgeon. His daughter sets out to find him, trying to make sense of his blood-soaked diary. Meanwhile a young patient discovers Tomie walking the corridors at night and agrees to take her home with him, poor fool. Murder, mayhem and mutation soon follow.

This film gets a bigger budget than the first, enabling a more expansive story with several stories revolving around a hospital that’s going out of control. The likeable and experienced cast are convincing, and there's enough money for some haunting FX.

Yet another actress plays Tomie here, Mai Hosho (later to appear in Suicide Circle - they needed a lot of schoolgirls for that one), and there's a new director to the series, Tomijiro Mitsuishi, who succeeds in bringing in some powerful heart-stopping moments and creep-outs. Finally we have a bona fide Tomie horror film to recommend.

We get to see how men usually treat her - maybe a meal, then murder, then dismemberment. There's not much graphic gore, but some grisly sound FX make the scenes more than effective. Using Junji Ito's manga as inspiration, there's also a marvellous mutated corpse, and a madman's face that both stick closely to the dark visions of the original drawings.

The film occasionally goes off the rails, with a couple of over-the-top moments that don't work and even some unintentional laughs. The main complaint I have is that there’s not enough of Tomie herself - we spend more time with the other characters tracking her down and mopping up after her.

These are quibbles though - this is a well-structured horror film, enhanced greatly by an atmospheric and effective soundtrack. The region 1 DVD (pictured above) has an anamorphic widescreen picture, 5.1 audio, good (removable) english subtitles, and even trailers for the first 5 Tomie releases.

But as we shall see, it won’t be the last time they’ll be burying Tomie's head in the forest…

Mark H

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