The “villain” of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s tense police thriller seems to step into the story fully-formed–no past, no future, living entirely in the moment. He can neither remember his past nor retain new information for more than a few minutes at a time, but this strange affliction does not prevent the enigmatic youth from reaching into the minds of others, dredging up their repressed fears and traumas, and twisting them into something dark–something sinister.
“You’re just a woman. Why did you become a doctor?” he asks one victim.
That’s what people said, isn’t it? Think back. Remember exactly how you felt. ‘Just a woman. Woman is a lower life form than man, isn’t she?’ See? Now you remember. When you were in medical school, you dissected a corpse, didn’t you? The first corpse you’d ever seen. It was a man, wasn’t it? You’d never seen a naked man before. You took your scalpel and cut into him. It made you feel good, didn’t it? […] What you really wanted to do was cut a man open.
Days later, the hypnotized doctor stabs a man to death in a public restroom and carves a grim signature into his throat, so deep that the flesh peels off his face: an “X” straight across the carotid arteries–the same ominous mark the devoted husband left on his wife, the kind-hearted police officer left on his partner, the mild-mannered salaryman left on a prostitute…
Thus, Mamiya taps into a psychological, existential sort of horror: the nagging fear that “free will” is little more than an illusion. After all, what could be more terrifying than the notion that some malevolent force might transform you into a puppet, turn you against your loved ones–and convince you that you intended to harm them all along?
[Originally written October 18, 2012.]