Don’t watch the trailer for this movie. Yet. If you do watch it without knowing a thing about Uzumaki, you won’t realize what it is about this Japanese horror film that is so exponentially disturbing, so for better or (much) worse, I will enlighten you.
J-horror is an entirely different monster from what you might be used to. It doesn’t necessarily rely on up-front gore to grab you by the neck in the first 30 seconds. This is a much more insidious creature that creeps up your spine like a ghost chill until you realize, too late, that you’re already swirling in a Lovecraftian vortex—which is exactly what makes Uzumaki the nightmare fuel you probably never knew existed.
Uzumaki is based on a manga by acclaimed Japanese horror mangaka Junji Ito. Which you should never read at night. Ever. It revolves around the warped world of Kirie Goshima, a teenager trapped in a town cursed by the spiral, the uzumaki that worms its way into the minds of unsuspecting citizens until they are the spiral in one horrific form or another you can’t possibly unsee.
It seems deceptively innocuous at first. Kirie is sprinting to the station to pick up her boyfriend Shuicihi until she eyes his father crouched in a dark corner, transfixed by a snail stuck to the damp brick to the point that he is recording a video of the thing and oblivious to everything around him. What you’ll only realize later is that this is where it starts to get weird. Except you won’t realize it until you see the possessed man’s massive collection of spiral objects. Or what he can do with his eyes. Or how he accidentally commits suicide in a washing machine in an attempt to be the spiral.
This is what I mean by saying that you won’t realize you’re sucked into the vortex until you’re already in its thrall. Then this movie has a power over you that forces your eyes wide open as terror after terror flashes onscreen, from people who morph into giant wall-climbing snails to bodies that twist and twist with a sickening crack until they are no longer recognizable as human, to the crematorium smoke that spirals up into an ominously overcast sky at their funerals, giving one last glimpse to tortured faces struggling for their last gasp.
If you were wondering, Ito admits to one of his main inspirations being H.P. Lovecraft. You can go scream into the vortex now.