Uzumaki: The Film
Uzumaki is a uniquely odd film based on the horror manga of the same name by Junji Ito. The film follows the events of a town slowly turned inside out by spirals. It was released in 2000, but has a blue and washed out 1970s feel to it, which is matched somewhat in the pace and general style of the film. The plot and stylings of Uzumaki make it similar in many ways to the classic Hausu.
The purposefully unrealistic and slightly wacky visual style really suits Uzumaki and I think filming it this way was the best way to create the right sense of weird, semi-amused, transfixed unease that the manga had. What I loved about the manga was its perfect blend of impossible strangeness and genuine spookiness. The scenarios are a millimetre away from laughable at times, but they keep just inside the uncanny valley, whilst the sheer imaginativeness of them keeps pushing further and further until you realise you are actually pretty spooked.
In the manga, the story stretches on with increasingly disturbing events and through it all, Kirie and Shuichi are really incredibly normal, trying to do the best they can for each other and everyone else inside a growing predicament. My single favourite thing about the manga has to be the ending. I won't spoil it, but for me it was a rare perfect ending - macabre, but incredibly sweet and touching. I find that most stories don't portray romance and love in a way that I can really relate to, but the ending of Uzumaki was absolutely spot on. I love it.
Unfortunately, the ending was where I think the film fell flat. Where the manga had a long and exciting ending with a winding and satisfying conclusion (which still left foggy mystery behind), the film just... ends (it was actually released before the manga series came to a conclusion).
What I do like about the film though is the style as mentioned above, with all its soft blues and greys, and the personalities of Kirie and Shuchi, which carry over nicely. This is particularly well illustrated in moments such as when Kirie looks through photos of the two of them as children. We see Shuichi's kindness in childhood, and again in adulthood when towards the end of the film he comforts Kirie as they stand next to the lake. These moments feel very genuine and are beautifully understated. To me, they are stand-out moments, and I like to think of Uzumaki as a story about Kirie and Shuichi's precious moments together more than anything. Of course, I also love the snail boys and mesmerising-hair-girl (she gives a brilliant performance).
In closing, here's a list of some of my favourite little things about the film adaptation:
Muted colour palette, personal moments between Kirie and Shuichi, that drawn out bike ride near the beginning, the smoking reporter, the mean boys laughing obnoxiously in class, childhood flashbacks, the delicious melon, Kyoko Sekino's affectations, Shuichi's perfectly combed parting, overzealous pottery appreciation.