When starting this Japanese horror project I did a bit of research into what films were considered the very best of the genre.  Several top ten lists later I noticed one name besides Ringu, Ju-On, and Audition kept cropping up: Cure.  So naturally I wanted to watch it, but for whatever reason it took me awhile to get around to it.

I must say that I was underwhelmed.

The premise of the movie is that a rash of brutal killings has broken out in Japan.  In each case the victim was killed and then an X was carved into their necks.  The detective Takabe is investigating the case while trying to take care of his wife, who suffers a mysterious psychological ailment.  I’m not sure what was up with her, other than it seemed she completely lost track of where she was and what she was doing sometimes.  The movie never was really clear about that.

Anyway a mysterious young man is apprehended near one of the killings and Takabe questions him to try to discover what has been going on.   And at the risk of going into too many spoilers I won’t go too much further.  Suffice to say it gets even stranger from there, delving into occult, mysticism, mesmerism, and psychology.

I really wouldn’t classify the movie as a horror flick.  I’d call it a psychological thriller, or a murder mystery.  It wasn’t a scary film in my book, although there was a nice creepy atmosphere pervading the bulk of it.  It grabs your attention early on, playing this upbeat sounding music while a guy bludgeons a prostitute to death with a pipe.  I was pretty shocked by that: it came from nowhere!

But then after that the movie became sort of murky.  I think my main problem with it was that it was slow.  This is a very slow paced movie.  It sort of crawls along, not really revealing too much along the way.  When revelation finally does occur I think it makes things even more confusing.  There is a lot of jumbled imagery in this film: a lot of scenes where you can’t discern what is real and what isn’t.  Which is fine for a movie of this type to do, but at the same time to me it didn’t work all that well.

Furthermore the revelation wasn’t much of a revelation.  I am still not entirely sure what I just watched in all actuality even knowing what I do about folklore, psychology, the occult, and that sort of thing.  It sort of clambered and hiccupped along to finish in anti-climax.

So yeah I was underwhelmed.  Then maybe if I watched it another day I might have liked it better.  There is a lot in this movie, and tonight my heads sort of foggy, so maybe if I watched it on a better night it would have sunk in a bit better.  Even on a good night I think Cure is a movie that needs to be watched twice at least to fully appreciate.

If you enjoy psychological thrillers or murder mysteries like Shutter Island or Se7en (both of which I really liked by the way), give Cure a shot.

Just make sure you pay close attention, or you’ll wind up completely lost.