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Like many horror fans, I've been watching a lot of Asian films
recently. Although Asian horror isn't new, easy availability of it in
the United States is relatively recent. Unlike many horror fans,
though, I'm not generally of the opinion that Asian horror is better on
the whole than American horror. That's not to say I think American
horror is usually better, either. I just think the two are different.
The odd thing is that even understanding that difference, a lot of reviews for Infection are complaining that the film is a bit "confusing", "disjointed", or more charitably, "non-linear". That's to be expected from a viewer who hasn't seen a lot of Asian horror yet. But oddly, those comments are often coming from viewers who seem to love the genre. It's odd, because the genre is characterized by being more non-linear. Compared to the typical U.S. horror film, Asian horror has many of the same differences that European horror from the late 1960s and early 1970s had--it tends to be more surreal and poetic. Rather than a focus on transparent literalism, there is a focus on metaphor, symbolism and dream logic. For anyone familiar with academic philosophy, the difference is reflected there. U.S. horror is equivalent to analytic philosophy, European horror to continental, and Asian horror seems rooted in Zen, Taoism, and so on.
Thus, when you begin watching a film like Infection, you have to expect something different than what you'd expect from, say, Cursed (2004) or Valentine (2001). Although in many ways, Infection is more straightforward and spends more time providing explanations than the typical Asian genre film. It's nowhere near as inscrutable as Charisma (aka Karisuma, 1999) or Chaos (aka Kaosu, 1999), but it's not as transparent as Dark Water (aka Honogurai mizu no soko kara, 2002). Rather, it fits nicely in the middle of the two extremes.
The story is set in a small Japanese hospital. Right from the start, we see that they're having odd problems and things are beginning to get out of control. The hospital is understaffed and quite a few employees do not seem to be as competent as they should be. Meanwhile, we see an ambulance that keeps announcing that it has a patient with a possibly dangerous infection who needs to be seen immediately. We're not sure who they're broadcasting this to. After a while, it becomes clear that they're broadcasting it to no on in particular. Eventually, The ambulance drops off its patient despite protests from a doctor about not being able to handle the case. The patient has a bizarre, possibly fatal infection, and it seems to be spreading.
Although infection makes a fair amount of sense on a literal level, much of the film is meant as an extended, in-depth metaphor for infections, and not just literal biological infections. Director/co-writer Masayuki Ochiai and co-writer Ryoichi Kimizuka stress a phenomenon that's more like meme theory--they're looking at how ideas, or any kind of information or state, starts with a seed that's passed on and evolves/transforms over "generations". Since this is a horror film, a lot of the focus is on how that can go sour.
At the same time, the film works just as well on another level--an unabashed series of cringe-worthy horror set pieces. All of these layers co-exist happily, and most viewers can choose to engage (or not) with the film on any or all of Infection's modes. Like most artworks, you get out of Infection whatever you put into it. That means that this isn't really for passive viewing.
Just as would happen in an infection, or under the various infection-like phenomena that are being symbolized, Ochiai gives us a gradual transformation in style, structure and content. The opening scenes are normally lit, the hospital is well populated with relatively normal folks, and the patients' problems seem only slightly odd. At the very beginning, the film could just as well turn into something of a hospital "soap opera". But imperceptibly from moment to moment (it's only perceptible when you take a step back for a "broad" view), the lighting and color schemes change, first becoming a bit darker, then emphasizing pinks, reds, yellows and finally greens and blues--a color transformation not unlike a minor inflammation leading to bruising, sickness and strong nausea, and finally death.
At the same time, our cast of characters--both medical professionals and patients--gradually dwindles until we're left with only a small core or normality. Infection becomes increasingly claustrophobic, and Ochiai makes a similar transformation in his physical threats--from "hard", external problems, to a gradual getting under the skin, to complete bodily dissolution. At the same time, a ghostly presence becomes more prominent. These kinds of infectious progressions imbue every aspect of the film and are quite ingenious.
But wait--there's more! Ochiai has also given us a mind-bending "rubber reality" film. He makes a philosophical point about color perception early on that ends up being correlated with the changing color schemes on a completely different level, rooted in the mental. This aspect comes as something of a twist near the end, and imply a recontextualization of the whole to that point, although the point may just be the role of the mental in "infections". But just so we don't forget the ultimate aim, Ochiai gives us a small horror set piece tag at the very end that exists only for its own sake.
My love of this film might also have personal roots--just about the only things that disturb me in reality are medical in nature--doctors, hospitals, treatments, sickness, etc., so films like this hit close to my phobias. At any rate, for me, this is one of the best Asian horror films of recent years, right up there with Ebola Syndrome (aka Yibola bing du, 1996), Battle Royale (Batoru rowaiaru, 2000) and Suicide Club (Jisatsu saakuru, 2002). Don't miss it, but go in with the right frame of mind. And bring penicillin.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A run-down hospital receives a patient one night with bizarre symptoms. Symptoms that defy medical explanation. A virus that liquefies organs, muscle tissueyet keeps the host alive. One by one, the staff of the hospital contract the disease, hallucinating, going crazy, and literally melting to piles of rot. Will anyone survive through the night? Is the disease a real, horrific virus, or one with supernatural origins? Wow, what a creepy, unsettling movie. Good acting from the whole cast, an intelligent script, top-notch direction, and man is it scary! Writer/director Masayuki Ochiai did a great job on this one. The imagery, cinematography, and effects were beautifully done. The plot twists towards the end were a little too fast and confusing but the movie is definitely worth while. This is great J-horror in my opinion, much better than the overrated "Ju-On" and its definitely better than 2002's similar virus-themed horror-comedy, "Cabin Fever". Rent it, but don't expect to sleep well afterwords! 8/10.
"Infection" takes place in an old,dilapidated hospital that is barely able to keep its door open to the public due to a constant lack of adequate medicine,facilities and staff.The hospital is riddled with agony and suffering of countless patients and the strain on the doctors and nurses has reached the critical point.A doctor's negligence causes a patient to die and the panicked hospital staff decides to cover up the fatal mistake setting off a deadly chain of events.Paramedics bring a new patient into the hospital that has been stricken with so deadly that his innards have mysteriously disintegrated.The doctors attempt to contain the virus,but the ill patient escapes through the ventilation system ensuring that everyone inside the doomed hospital will have to fight for their lives from this horrifying epidemic.Unlike overrated "Cabin Fever","Infection" is a creepy and unsettling horror film.This is the first genre movie from the Taka Ichise-produced J-Horror Theater series.Director Masayuki Ochiai is already well-known as the director of "Parasite Eve" and "Hypnosis" ,while the cast includes Kôichi Satô,the star of "Rasen"."Infection" delivers its share of squirm inducing and gory moments and it certainly gets under your skin.Just ignore negative comments and enjoy this creepy piece of horror.9 out of 10.
Like so many J-horror flicks in years past, the plotting is a
nonsensical mess of seemingly random events tied to a loose running
narrative, but the visuals do a good job of maintaining interest.
A patient dies at a hospital due to a mistake made by a team of hospital personnel. Wanting so save their careers, they vow to cover it up. Around the same time, a young man arrives at the hospital exhibiting symptoms of an unknown contagion. After the youth dies due to the virus (by melting away, of all the unpleasant ways to go), the members of the conspiracy start behaving strangely and also experiencing the same symptoms. What is happening to them? That is about as linear as the plot ever gets, from there on the story starts rocketing back and forth between flashbacks, hallucinations, ghostly encounters and other odd events. Moreover, rather than moving toward a resolution of conflict, it merely gets weirder and stranger the longer it runs. The characters are mostly anarchistic views of social stereotypes, which makes hardly any of them likable or sympathetic. Also, the story drags for the first 30 minutes or so, while the last 30 minutes shoot by way to quickly; some re-editing could have helped with that.
Visually, the film is nice. A greenish hue covers most of the film, which gives it an eerie sort of discomfort. Also, many shot choices and camera angles add to the feeling of things not being right. There is a fair amount of 'gooey' scenes, but not very much in the way of the red stuff. Most of the scare set ups are fairly well done, but many of them conclude without much pay-off.
There's good (visuals), there's bad (the script), meaning it's really only meant for J-film fanatics.
This movie scared the living!%^*@ out of me! I watched it in daylight, but I was too scared to get up for a snack! The pacing can be a bit long, but if you have patience, it works.The use of lighting and wicked sets reminded me of Dario Argento's Suspiria, though lacking his flair for geometric patterns. The atmosphere is handily Lovecraftian with its sense of doom and inescapable dread. It was 117 outside, and I was stone-cold scared! This one has a place of honor on my shelf, right next to "Spiral", The Ring series, and my collection of Italian Splatter movies! I will be showing this at my Halloween party, along with some others to scare and sicken everyone.
I was hoping for a little more out of this movie. It is set in a
hospital, which is an inherently creepy setting that has been used to
good effect in several good horror movies (eg, Session 9, the Eye 2).
Unfortunately, though the cinematography is good, there's not much in
this movie that rises above the sort of low-level creepiness inherent
in all hospitals.
At times I was struck with the idea that the director had originally planned to make a fairly straight-forward hospital-slasher movie, but due to some kind of colossal blunder ended up being shipped 50 gallons of green goo instead of the 50 gallons of fake blood that he ordered. Infection was then swiftly rewritten to accommodate this mix-up, and while they were at it they tacked on some twists at the end which might have been fresh prior to the global movie-twist mania that swept the world circa 1993 or so.
It's not a terrible movie, and there is some endearing acting by the three lead doctors (who do fairly well with pretty colorless characters). Overall, though, it plays out like a Halloween episode of E.R. Many scenes that ought to frighten the viewer are just drawn out, only the most extreme of the gross-out scenes are really effective, and the movie is full of dross that doesn't enhance its story or its mood.
I have always been a big fan of Asian horror, as the directors seem to
have a knack for incredibly creepy visuals and creepy atmospheres.
Kansen (Infection), is no exception to this, as it rivals Ju-On, Ringu
and Gin Gwai for thrills and chills. What is really amazing is that
there is no reliance on long haired girls or little boys, what is scary
here is the hospital itself, and the characters within. This is very
different to most supernatural horror films, as the story focuses on
the characters for the majority of the film.
Infection is set in an under-staffed and under-financed hospital where the staff are under a lot of stress. One night, while trying to save a burns victim who has been there for three months, a young nurse accidentally gives him a lethal injection. Dr. Uozumi convinces all the other staff to create a false report to save the hospital. That same night a patient is brought in with a severe infection which causes the internal organs to liquefy. Soon all the staff are working together to discover what this disease is before it starts to spread to far.
As with most Japanese horror films, the plot is not wrapped up nicely, and in this case, it is the most puzzling of them all. Although I now have formed a solid conclusion for myself, it was still an incredibly confusing and muddled final 10 minutes. I think the last section could have been fixed up, as the pace slowed down after a very tight hour. However, the film is highly original for the most part and features some genuine scares and disgusting and beautiful visuals (much like Dario Argento's Suspiria). Amongst all the American trash being released, this stands tall and further proves that Asia (and Europe) are producing the highest quality horror.
I had no idea what to expect from this movie. As it turned out I found
it absolutely spellbinding. The dark, moody atmosphere of a financially
struggling hospital is beautifully done. The characters are quite
different from English-speaking concepts of character development.
There's not even a single star rather there are several lead characters
and they are all good.
There is no "gore for gore's sake" - the darkness is more subtle. Often I find that Japanese films surprise me, and from beginning to end this was no exception. I loved this movie and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone 14yrs or over.
I like how much work Japanese directors put into the pacing, atmospherics, and suspense of their horror films. This one is no exception. If you ever saw Kingdom Hospital and enjoyed it for the mix of suggestive spooky supernatural undertones clashing with rationalism and materialism thematically, then you might like this film as well. At first I thought this film would turn out to be something like 28 Days with ferocious infected zombies feeding on humans, but there is a much more clever plot line going on which I won't reveal. The plot seemed to have some holes in it til I realized what was really going on in the end. Mainly though, I enjoyed the mix of film with a suggestion of a supernatural influence in a materialist or rationalist world. Visual storytelling gets this idea across with images of, for example, swings swinging on their own near the hospital, or an old crazy lady who sees her dead relatives in mirrors staring at her reflection in a window looking like an apparition. I must say that after discovering Japanese thrillers and horror films, it is hard to go back to Hollywood offerings for sure. They seem so predictable, tame, and cookie-cutter in comparison.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A large hospital in Japan is on the verge of bankruptcy and as a result the administration is unable to pay the doctors and the staff and there is no money to order new supplies. Because of this desperate situation, the doctors are forced to turn away new patients because they simply cannot care for them in an adequate manner. Things then go from bad to worse when an ambulance arrives with an extremely sick patient who appears to have a strange disease that is rare, deadly and very contagious. At that exact same moment an accident in the emergency room causes another unforeseen problem as well. Now, rather than disclose the rest of the story and risk spoiling the film for those who haven't seen it I will just say that this movie managed to keep my interest from start to finish. I found it to be both exciting and bizarre. In any case, I should probably add that this movie was initially filmed in Japanese and subtitled in English. I say this because even though I personally didn't mind it it's possible that there might be some viewers who do. Be that as it may, I enjoyed this movie and recommend it to those who might be interested in a film of this nature. Above average.
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