Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's CREEPY: The Japanese master of quiet fright returns -- with a jolt

If you've seen a film by Kiyoshi Kurosawa -- say, PulseCure, Tokyo Sonata or the beautifully oddball Bright Future -- you'll know how remarkably quiet, riveting, beautifully-if-unshowily composed and surprisingly diverse this filmmaker's work can be. Kurosawa (shown below) is noted mostly for his films that fit somewhere into the thriller/ mystery/other-worldly realm. His latest, the perfectly titled CREEPY, is a terrific addition to that realm.

TrustMovies would call this very creepy movie one of Kurosawa's best, except that I say this about each of the man's films. I've never seen a bad one. He's too subtle and too interested in character and motivation to ever hand us anything so typically "frightening" as those Ringu/TheRing movies. Kurosawa frightens us in an entirely different manner. There is always something beyond our understanding in his films, but he gives this to us in such as way that we buy into it and finally accept that it indeed goes beyond what we can fully comprehend. Somehow he even makes us grateful.

His movies may thrill, frighten, shock and startle us. But they also approach art. Creepy begins with a detective questioning a serial killer and trying to get at the man's motivation and morality. This does not end well.

Soon after, our "hero" (a particularly fine, strong and taciturn performance from one of the best-looking men to grace current cinema, Hidetoshi Nishijima, above, and below, center) is living with his wife and big, shaggy dog in another part of town and attempting to get on with his new life as a teacher, and, along with his wife, to get to know his new neighbors. This does not go well, either, and it leads us, the family, and some of our hero's former co-workers into very dark waters.

To go much further into plot points would spoil things. Suffice it to say that the cast includes the great Teruyuki Kagawa (above, left, and below, from Devils on the Doorstep and Key of Life) as the family's most unusual neighbor, and Yûko Takeuchi , who brings beauty, pathos and finally something very strange and frightening to her role of the detective/teacher's long-suffering (and then simply suffering) wife.

The beyond-our-understanding element here is some kind of strange liquid injected into the various characters that appears to allow them to be controlled utterly. Or maybe only somewhat. The degree is important, and it is central to the theme and mystery here, which deals with responsibility, morality and motivation. By the end of Creepy, you will not only have been creeped-out but left, as are certain family members, to wrestle, perhaps forever, with the results of what they did -- or didn't -- do.
And why.

The movie -- from KimStim Films and running a long but never-for-a-moment dull 130 minutes -- opens this Friday, October 21, in New York City (at the Metrograph), Los Angeles (at Laemmle's Ahrya Fine Arts) and San Francisco (Roxie Theater), with a further rollout across the country coming in November. To see all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters, click here and scroll down.

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