Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 22nd, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1999
Director: Atura Oikawa
Writers: Ataru Oikawa, Junji Ito
Cast: Mami Nakamura, Tomoro Taguchi, Yoriko Douguchi, Kouta Kusano
DVD Released: February 3rd, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD Release: Adness
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99
For the past three years Tsukiko (Mami Nakamura), has had trouble sleeping and remembering the past due to amnesia. She has been lead to believe by her family that her memory lose is due to a car accident. She has been undergoing hypnotherapy and during one of her visits with Dr. Hosono (Yoriko Douguchi), Tsukiko utters the name Tomie. Detective Harada (Tomorowo Taguchi) visits Dr. Hosono revealing the source of Tsukiko’s trauma. Tsukiko’s downstairs neighbor takes care of a head in a box that is quickly growing into a woman. Who is Tomie and what is her connection to Tsukiko?
Due in part to the success of Ringu Japanese horror films international have been picking up the slack with the decline of horror films in Italy and the water downed Hollywood teen horror films in creative decline. Manga in Japan has been the inspiration for countless Anime series and films through the years and now the film industry in Japan has started to follow suit in none Anime projects. Tomorowo Taguchi is a veteran Japanese actor who breakthrough role came in the film Tetsuo and in recent years he has made several films with Takashi Miike including the Black Society Trilogy, Full Metal Yakuza, Dead or Alive and Dead or Alive 2: Runaway. Foreign cinema is know for its strong visual style and horror films made in Italy and Asia tend to rely on style more then substance. One thing Tomie like other Asian horror films does best is that they are know for their slow build ups that follow a protagonist doing some of the most tedious things before the true horror is revealed to the viewer. Miho Kanno plays Tomie with a sadistically with her sinister laugh and cold emotionless expressions.
The plot is thin as the characters are one dimensional outside of Tomie and Tsukiko leaving the audience no one to sympathize with. From the opening frames of Tomie Otaru Oikawa’s direction sets the tone as he expertly uses lighting and shadows to add to the films foreboding mood. Tsukiko’s nightmares are the films strongest moments as they are disturbing surreal in there execution and atmosphere. In the end Otaru Oikawa crafts a film that isn’t as scary as much as it is weird.
Tomie is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1:85:1 aspect ratio. The image quality has a few flaws such as murky color and due to soft contrast the overall picture isn’t as sharp as it could have been. The print for the most part is clean without there any noticeable artifacting and Adness’s region 1 DVD is on par transfer wise with the Daiei’s region 2 release. The only option on this DVD is a Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese audio track that uses that surrounds perfectly without ever overwhelming the viewer. The dialog is comes through clearly and there is no sign of distortion or audio hiss. The English subtitles are easy to read and follow and unlike previous editions the subtitles are more accurate.
Extras include a making of featurette that is about 28 minutes in length and the featurette is just as bizarre as the movie. Other extras include trailers for all five Tomie movies. Tomie is a stronger movie then Atura Oikawa’s Tomie another Face as the overall tone of the movie has a more grotesque visual style that is reminiscent of David Lynch and Dario Argento’s films. This is the film that started it all spawning four sequels to date and if you aren’t already of Japanese horror you will be after watching Tomie.