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Noroime - Cursed Woman (Hirota Mikio 2000)


[Cursed Woman]

Genre: Psychic Sci-Fi Thriller

review in one breath

Things have not been easy for Michiko, who while not working in a standard OL job under a manager who bullies her, is home taking care of her twin brother Seiji who has been blind from birth. Michiko and Seiji have always been very close, particularly due to their mutual suffering at the hand of their psychotically abusive mother. Now, in their mid-20's, the twins continue to live together, occasionally visiting their docile, medicated mother in the psychiatric ward.

Michiko does attempt to reserve a little time for herself, and is slowly building a relationship with Shohei. Although she is constantly concerned about her blind brother, Seiji is independent in several regards and is able to contribute to their livelihood by providing piano lessons to a seductive housewife who is soon playing chopsticks on Seiji's lower half. (!!)

Michiko's routine is increasingly interrupted by a series of vivid dreams wherein she is witnessing the brutal murder of a victim. In each of the several dreams, she recognizes the victim as someone she knows, and as the dreams persist, she finds she is no longer a mere observer but has now become the attacker. The division between dream and reality seems to blur when Seiji inadvertently mentions the strange dreams he has been having involving the same brutal murders. This division, however, is completely smashed when they learn that the people they have dreamt about were in actuality murdered on the very night of the dreams.

Concerned that her dreams and their seeming manifestation in reality may point to a psychological meltdown, Michiko confides in Dr Horie, their childhood doctor who was integrally involved in their conception and well being. But although the good doctor assures Michiko that her dreams are not anything to be worried about, she can't help but distrust her sleeping state, and that evening determines to stay awake throughout the night. As midnight approaches she is wide awake, yet enters a very clear vision of yet another woman, whom she recognizes as Seiji's libidinous piano student, being terrified by a knife-wielding attacker. Thinking she might somehow interrupt the attack she is witnessing, she hastily runs to the student's home, just in time to see the attacker hovering over the victim.

As Michiko stands there in shock, Dr Horie suddenly bursts into the room, camera in hand, apparently having filmed the entire episode. As Horie has Michiko and the attacker bound in strait jackets and hauled away to a grimy basement room in the psych ward, a much more sinister reality begins to emerge. To her horror, these unfolding revelations not only throw her self-identity upside-down, but threatens to destroy Seiji and herself. When cornered and without an alternative, Michiko realizes that one of the twins will need to be sacrificed to save the other, but that their vitally symbiotic relation should be preserved for the both of them. In an ending which will undoubtedly catch the audience by surprise, Michiko and Seiji figure out how to have their cake and eat it too.

Noroime was rather entertaining, in a mindless sort of way. The likely identity of the attacker becomes rather obvious early on, though the attacker's identity turns out to be only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the secrets to be revealed. But even these darker secrets are in essence garden variety Japanese psycho-babble which so effectively explain away the blaringly impossible. AND YET even all those secrets pale in comparison to the bizarre turn of events through which the plot resolves. Mind-boggling it is.

Noroime is a straight-to-video "horror" feature directed by Hirota Mikio and produced by Tokuma Communications. Hirota has worked as assistant director on a number of films, including Eko Eko Azaraku (1998). Michiko is played by Mochizuki Saya who appears in many video-level productions but is perhaps better known (and loved) for her nearly-revealing photo spreads and bikini videos. (!!)

Version reviewed: Unsubtitled VHS

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Not much cultural value other than apparently single-handedly putting the kabosh on several careers. Several brutal knife (and scissor) attacks. Two guys get their brains squeezed out. One guy makes an unexpected (and unwilling) deposit at the eye bank. One giant leap for twin-kind. This movie will make you wish your piano lessons had been this exciting. And it adds a whole new meaning to the term "brotherly love". Enough plot twists to give your intellect the cramps. Memorable moments include: the neon eyeballs from hell, Seiji's completely unresolved sense of being watched, and the camera-obsessed doctor's great pains at capturing his last breath on film.

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