Tomie: Unlimited (2011): Out now on DVD
(18) Running time: 85 minutes
Director: Noboru Iguchi
Writers: Junji Ito, Jun Tsugita
Starring: Miu Nakamura, Maiko Kawakami, Moe Arai
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Tomie: Unlimited is based on a Manga series, and while there have been a number of films already made, Tomie: Unlimited is picking up word of mouth as being the best. I have not seen any of the other films, but from reading other reviews they are not great, and Tomie: Unlimited is the one getting all the praise. For starters its directed by Noboru Iguchi, the insane genius responsible for Machine Girl, Robogeisha, Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead and Mutant Girls Squad, and boy does he put his own stamp on this tale of madness and depravity. To give you an idea of just how nasty this film can get, the lovely BBFC have removed 13 minutes of violence, mutilation and body transformations in order to grant it an 18 certificate. Sadly, I have only seen the cut version, but I will be looking for a region 1 copy to enjoy the film in its entirety.
We meet Tomie at the beginning of the film, expertly played by the gorgeous Miu Nakamura, and she is having pictures of her taken after school by her sister. A tragic event leads to Tomie’s death and a heartbroken family struggle to deal with it. The film begins as a real sinister, intense and very dark story, with elements of the famed J-Horror shining through and I was under the illusion that this was about to get very scary. Tomie’s sister is having nightmares and keeps imagining Tomie to still be alive. On Tomie’s 18th birthday a year later the family gather round a birthday cake in honour of their lost daughter. A knock on the door reveals Tomie, she is let in and the family cannot believe their eyes, and in a bizarre way, the parents welcome her back no questions asked. The sister, on the other hand, who had a deep routed jealousy for Tomie and her attractive looks, is cautious, it would appear Tomie is back, but she seems different, she seems overpowering, dark and untrustworthy. Where has she come from, and what does she want?
The film gently builds a well crafted tale of how Tomie begins to take over people’s lives as they become obsessed with her. The Father is so intent on keeping her safe that he happily beats his other daughter for pushing Tomie. The violent and sickening scene is made all the more unsettling as Tomie looks on smiling and the poor Mother cries. There are even hints of some lesbian action as Tomie joins her sister in the bath, but the bizarre scene leads on to later events as we get our first glimpse of something not quite right with Tomie. To give away any more of the story from this point on would spoil your enjoyment because the film quite literally shifts from intense, creepy horror to an all out gore fest with body mutations, stabbings, headless girls chasing victims, horrific creatures and just blood everywhere. The majority of the final third is based at school, and school kids get involved in horrific murders, or become victims as Tomie quite literally takes over people’s lives. Insane is not even close to explaining just how this film turns. There are Tomie’s everywhere, in plant pots, other Tomie’s have no heads, another rebuilds itself a-la Hellraiser, there is a giant Tomie, a centipede covered in Tomie’s heads, Hell, even some hair carries Tomie’s head! It is bonkers!
My advice with this film is take it on face value, don’t read too much into the often confusing plot and just enjoy the show. I am not sure if this is supposed to make sense, but it does go off the rails so much you can’t really pay much attention to the story. In all honesty, when a film turns out to be so mental, who cares about plot? I have read some reviews that go really deep into the whole story of jealousy and wanting to fit in, and yes that is all here and makes a solid point. However, I found this film to be simply a whole lot of fun, and it is rare these days to see a film so insanely mad that all you can do is laugh at just how far this director is willing to go. It is not often you see a film where you really don’t know what will happen next, but thankfully Tomie: Unlimited is one of those films. Yes some of the special effects are a bit dodgy, and some of the acting is terribly staged, but that comes as part of the charm here. This is all out ridiculous, but in a very very good way. Give Tomie: Unlimited a go, you’ll never have seen anything like it!