Beware of the green monkey!
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 10/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""You're falling deeper and deeper into the dark abyss. You can't stop now! You're falling feet first, dragged into the depths of your heart, and you will meet the conscience which you've never known."
Three bizarre and grisly suicides take place. A 73-year old man jumps out of his apartment window after giving his wife a present on her 70th birthday. An 18-year old girl literally runs herself to death on an outdoor track, grisly for the shots of her twisted and bent legs. And a groom strangles himself to death at his own wedding reception. What they all have in common is that before they went berserk, they all mentioned "the green monkey."
Officer Sakurai, a veteran officer in his early sixties, is in charge of the case, and baffled, as he is unsatisfied with possibilities that they just suddenly lost hope. He bewails the state of affairs at a bar. "In the old days, murderers stole money to escape from poverty. Later, they wanted money to buy expensive things for vanity. Then they grow tired of material desires. Humans lives are so devalued. Humans are losing their hearts. When did people start dying so illogically?" However, a young psychologist named Saga, whose specialty is disassociative identity disorder, poses the possibility that the three were hypnotized. Sakurai befriends Saga and asks for his help. Saga points out that via post-hypnosis, an outside sign could have been given to the victim while under hypnosis, and when that sign is given, they act as ordered. "They all mentioned what broke their hearts and acted on it. They were hypnotized to isolate those wounds and widen them. Anyone would want to die then." Heck, I've had enough wounds that don't need hypnosis to widen them-I do that fine myself, but maybe memory control to erase those bad memories would help me.
Hypnosis does have its benefits, motion control, pain control during surgery or dental work, and memory controls, namely, erasing bad memories. Furthermore, the hypnotized reacts only to the hypnotist alone. However, one's actions is controlled by one's unconsciousness, so one cannot be forced to go against one's own morals, say killing someone. The hypnotizer is a guide, to help people into warm places.
But there are ways can be abused. Jissouji is the main offender in this film. This nefarious, smug-looking creep likes nothing better than to use his powers to get women in a state of undress, or even exhibit them on a sensationalistic live variety show, mainly to get laughs from the audience. A frightened girl named Yuka Irie frantically beseeches him to help her from the green monkey, but when he realizes there is another personality existing within her, an alien named Andria from Fatima who speaks in a mechanical monotone, he doesn't hesitate to exploit her. Nice guy, right? Furthermore, people are bombarded by subliminal advertising on billboards or TV, so one can't stay pure in the big city.
The police find out about Yuka and Jissouji and start investigating Yuka, who was hospitalized for anorexia. Sakurai and his cute female assistant, Mitsui, learn some sordid details that occurred while she was being treated. As the story goes on, more people commit suicide in hideous ways, such as locking oneself in a freezing meat locker, and turning on the gas stove while washing one's face as the flames engulf the face. All the while, Saga tries to help Yuka and figure out what the sign is.
As the frightened Yuka, Miho Hanna does a superior job portraying someone suffering from split personality and retreating into another personality when feeling cornered. Kanno also appeared in two other horror thrillers, in Eko Eko Azarak as Mizuki, and the title role in the first of the Tomie horror films.
An interesting police thriller with some grisly images. One image has a neon billboard reading TERROR, with a dead person forming the T, and an unexpected villain. However, in the final half hour leading to the climax, the Hypnotist veers into Ringu territory, namely scary long-haired women wearing white. Not bad of its type."
Routine potboiler with intriguing premise
Libretio | 09/03/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
(Japan - 1999)
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Theatrical soundtrack: Dolby Stereo SR
Following a series of bizarre and apparently unrelated 'suicides', an experienced Tokyo detective (Ken Utsui) enlists the help of a young psychoanalyst (Goro Inagaki) who believes the victims were acting on a post-hypnotic suggestion. But their subsequent investigations reveal an even darker force at work, linked to a young girl (Miho Kanno) whose life has been blighted by sadistic abuse...
Based on a novel by Keisuke Matsuoka, this densely-plotted Japanese mystery takes inspiration from a variety of sources (Italian gialli, traditional Japanese ghost stories, etc.), though some of the images in the climactic showdown reveal a more immediate influence: The recent commercial success of Hideo Nakata's RING (1998). For all its ambition, however, THE HYPNOTIST is a routine potboiler which stumbles badly after a powerhouse opening (the 'suicides' are particularly impressive, despite some feeble CGI effects), though director Masayuki Ochiai - who co-wrote the script with Yasushi Fukuda - rallies proceedings for an extended finale in which the narrative's startling secrets are finally revealed.
Ochiai is best known for his film adaptation of novel-turned-video-game PARASITE EVE (1997) - which also starred leading man Inagaki (a member of Japanese pop group SMAP) - and while THE HYPNOTIST echoes that movie's strong visual sense, it falls short as drama, and most of the characters are mere ciphers, undermining the storyline's emotional pay-off. Which is a shame, because the final half hour is galvanized by a series of dynamic set-pieces - most notably, a concert hall sequence in which Dvorak's 'New World'symphony is transformed into an instrument of murder! - and Ochiai is well-served by an excellent production team. However, those lured by the promise of gory carnage may be disappointed - the film is long on atmospherics and short on splatter.
Performances are varied, due to the script's limitations, but Kanno (TOMIE) is outstanding as a young woman suffering from multiple personality disorder - which, the subtitles on this print assures us, isn't recognized as a viable medical condition in Japan! - who falls prey to a sleazy TV hypnotist (Takeshi Masu), a prime suspect in the murders. Inagaki is bland in a one-dimensional role, and he's constantly upstaged by Utsui, a veteran performer whose career stretches back to the "Super Giant" series of the 1950's.
Original English export title: HYPNOSIS.
The Hypnotist ,Serpent rises
joe larkin | 06/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A frightfully fun thriller from director Masayuki Ochiai (Parasite Eve), Hypnosis ultimately succeeds thanks to its unusual ability to successfully pile on scare after scare. Viewers jaded in the aftermath of Ringu (1996) may argue that long-haired girls in flowing white gowns just aren't that scary anymore, and despite yet another appearance of such a menace, Ochiai has seemingly compensated by timing out his various other horrors at a consistent and truly satisfying pace. While not entirely original in concept, Hypnosis certainly stands out among its contemporaries when it comes to tone. Successfully balancing his horrors with an offbeat air of quirkiness, there are few films that can match the oddball air of menace that Hypnosis achieves effect bieng a good film,highly reccomend it."