This was the film I was most looking forward to from the Masters of Horror collection. It's strangely good and bad, the visual side of things is very surreal and colourful which does add a unique layer to the film. There are some weak moments in this film however (mostly the acting, although that's mostly due to language barrier) but this film certainly will leave an impression (or imprint).
Miike ha il talento riservato agli eletti,cioè quello di rendere affascinante qualsiasi cosa decida di raccontare;e questo lavoro conferma in pieno il trend,con una storia che ammalia sin dalle prime scene,riesce ad essere insostenibile in altre(la tortura di Komomo fa volgere lo sguardo altrove),e chiude in grande stile,sfumando e lasciando il tutto in un vortice di follia ed orrore.Takashi for ever.4*
much stronger work than most give it credit for, this film uses its inherent limitations (english language, billy drago) to ramp up the theatricality inherent in miike's 2000s work (he had made 'demon pond' only a year before), filtering it here through ero-guro aesthetics and nods towards the editing rhythms of taisho trilogy suzuki. minor miike, but should be approached on its own merits...
If the notorious torture sequence is just Takashi playing provocateur for the American audience, it is the films endlessly disturbing blend of monster movie imitation, supernatural mystery and bleak psychological drama that makes this one to watch. Not just the definite highlight of the otherwise disappointing Masters of Horror series, but for me, one of Miike's best and most interesting films.
5 stars for art direction alone; the acting is something best forgotten. The infamous torture scene didn't live up to its reputation, but the Torturer (岩井志麻子, author of the original story) was quite perfect. Many successful vignettes scattered throughout - the buddhist monk introducing hell to a child, for instance, still lingers. Billy Drago's little lullaby to a fetus was at once endearing & appalling.