Cure Movie Review

In and around Tokyo, a series of unrelated murders have an eerie common characteristic: the victims, killed by those well-known to them, are each branded by an X carved into their torso just below the throat. The killers are all unknown to one another and the detail has not been publicized. The only characteristic that the killers share, besides an irreconcilable remorse, is a vague confusion about what took place in the moments leading up to the murder.

The killings haunt detective Takabi (Koji Yakusho), not least because he worries about the safety of his wife, a disturbed woman who is prone to become disoriented and lost when out of the home. The first half of the 1997 thriller Cure, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (no relation) and now available stateside on DVD, details the crimes themselves, revealing the true culprit in the killings and showing the ways in which this murderous cipher gets inside his subjects' heads. The second half is about the detective, and about his struggle to keep the villain out of his own head.

Cure, like the two Insomnias and such recent Japanese horror as Takashi Miike's Audition, thus presents a battle being fought both in the streets and within the mind. And like little Regan in The Exorcist, the villain here is no less a threat in captivity than on his own. The film's best scares derive from this latter fact; watching our hero interact with his quarry in a jail cell, we're aware of the peril he faces, and we're conscious of the fact that nothing in society could protect anyone from such a foe. And protection is needed, as evidenced by the ways that the violence he inspires erupts in the film with terrifying spontaneity.

This inside/outside horror has been turning up with some regularity in the increasingly strange world of the Japanese thriller. Kurosawa, who is a fairly prolific director and who moves among various visual styles in his work, presents it here within a clean, plainly-observed cinematic framework that renders his hallucinatory subject matter all the more frightening. But the fact is that the approach is not an especially deep one, and in Cure it's given more deliberation than it can bear. The film is longish, as though length were needed to explore the depth of the theme (it's not), and the psychological complexities we're given to ponder in the second half (the detective's guilty ambivalence toward his bipolar wife, for instance) fall somewhere between thin and not there.

Cure occasionally frightens - and very successfully when it does - but it's ambitious beyond the confines of its genre. Kurosawa gives us something to think about when what we want is something that scares.


Comments

Cure Rating

" Weak "

Rating: NR, 1997

Editors Recommendations

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

The Cannes Film festival is sneaking up fast. The Oscars felt like they were 8 minutes ago...

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

Next weekend's CounterPoint Festival will be the event's first year at a new 5000-acre site, featuring...

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Superhero movies have been striving towards the almost unobtainable goal set...

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Ricky Gervais is "Hooked" on David Brent Again - Former Paper Merchant To Return

A return for David Brent has been mooted ever since the character was wheeled...

Ricky Gervais is

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing "Made In America" To Downtown Los Angeles

Jay Z and the Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti have announced that the rapper’s...

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing

Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

The editor-in-chief of US VOGUE magazine is reportedly determined for the annual...

Anna Wintour - Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

'Mrs Doubtfire' Sequel Will Be Made 21 Years After The Original

The comedy classic 'Mrs. Doubtfire' is reportedly set to return to the big-screen...

'Mrs Doubtfire' Sequel Will Be Made 21 Years After The Original

'Of Mice And Men' Brings Out Broadway Talents Of James Franco, Chris O'Dowd

Of Mice And Men premiered on Broadway last night, giving critics a chance to cast...

'Of Mice And Men' Brings Out Broadway Talents Of James Franco, Chris O'Dowd

Sofia Vergara On Her Menage a Trois in Woody Allen's 'Fading Gigolo'

Sofia Vergara has been speaking about her nerves at shooting a ménage a trois with...

Sofia Vergara On Her Menage a Trois in Woody Allen's 'Fading Gigolo'


More recommendations