If you’re not familiar with Tomie at all (as I wasn’t before I saw this film) then don’t fear because it’s really a simple idea and an easy character to understand. I’m going to reveal some key information here but it’s key information to establish a character that a lot of people already know plenty about. IF you want to check out this movie without knowing anything about it then please stop reading now.
Tomie is a Japanese schoolgirl who can’t really be killed. Well, I’m simplifying the whole thing based on just this movie as the background that I looked into after seeing this film revealed a number of intriguing plot points. But, essentially, that really is all you need to know. Tomie can’t really be killed. In fact, she uses the emotions she stirs up in others to gain power and replicate herself as quickly and as often as possible.
In Tomie Unlimited, young Tsukiko (Moe Arai) is the heroine of the piece. She’s a shy girl who always feels inferior to Tomie (Miu Nakamura), her older sister. That all changes when Tomie is killed before her very eyes. And then everything changes again when, a year later, Tomie returns. But is she the same girl that she once was. Or is she something else?
Director Noboru Iguchi is probably already known to fans of the bizarre (with his name on films such as RoboGeisha, The Machine Girl and the sounds-so-insane-I-must-see-it Zombie Ass: Toilet Of The Dead) and this film should certainly please viewers looking for something a little bit different. It has a mix of macabre humour within the horror and uses some obvious CGI blood and guts to add to the more surreal moments in the movie. Strangely enough, despite the madness that builds throughout the middle section of the movie, the film has a surprisingly sweet quality to it. Tsukiko is a lonely girl and the situation with Tomie just takes her fears and insecurities to unbelievable extremes.
The script, by Iguchi and Jun Tsugita, does enough to keep the film moving along while easily welcoming newcomers to the strange central concept, like a twist on “The Monkey’s Paw” mixed with a hint of The Thing.
The whole thing just doesn’t work as well as it could though, mainly because the more outrageous moments don’t ever chill or shock as they should – the whole thing seems like a number of set-pieces linked to a central premise that may have been birthed in the horror genre but has sidled into the area of dark comedy. The acting is the standard, slightly over the top, style that you’d expect from this kind of movie, there are plenty moments reminiscent of The Grudge and numerous other films featuring spooky scenes full of long, black hair and it’s all entertaining enough while never being all that memorable, despite how hard it clearly tries.
I’d rewatch this film and I’ll certainly be checking out some of the many other Tomie movies. But I won’t be expecting any of them to genuinely unnerve me.
Tomie Unlimited is released on DVD on Monday 23rd January and comes with a 55 minute conversation with director Noboru Iguchi. He seems like an okay, if slightly strange, bloke but 55 minutes with one person discussing the progression of their career isn’t the most exciting extra feature I’ve ever seen. Oh, there’s also a trailer. The picture, sound and subtitles are decent and Tomie fans should be kept reasonably happy.
DIRECTOR: NOBORU IGUCHI
WRITER: NOBORU IGUCHI, JUN TSUGITA (BASED ON THE MANGA BY JUNJI ITO)
STARS: MIU NAKAMURA, MOE ARAI, MAIKO KAWAKAMI, KENSUKE OWADA
RUNTIME: 85 MINS APPROX