Tomie: Rebirth (Shimizu Takashi 2001)


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Tomie: Rebirth

Genre: Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

Tomie: Rebirth is directed by Shimizu Takashi, creator and director of all the incredibly popular Juon movies (all five versions!). In addition to (and following) the original Tomie (1999) there have been six additional films made of which Shimizu's in the third. Shimizu's directing talent, along with his ability to avoid some of the pitfalls encountered by the prior versions, makes Tomie: Rebirth a thoroughly effective depiction of the horror implicit in Ito Junji's manga character Tomie.


The Tomie Films

Tomie (1999)
Tomie: Another Face (1999)
Tomie: Replay (2000)
Tomie: Rebirth (2001)
Tomie: Final Chapter (2002)
Tomie: Beginning (2005)
Tomie: Revenge (2005)
Shimizu's Tomie: Rebirth excels in communicating the almost unintentional, demonic impact Tomie has upon all those she encounters. First, she appears utterly irresistible. Then she gets into your head until you become helplessly obsessed with the thought of her. Then she watches with a smile as you lose your mind. Then you pick up the nearest blunt or sharp object and try your hardest to destroy the monster. But she returns, remembering everything, and you, poor you, find yourself once again psychotically attracted to her. Tomie marvels at the frailty of your human mind and body, and nearly despises you for "breaking" so easily. You are simply one more pitiful example amidst an almost unending series of people she has encountered and driven into horrible madness and death.

You could say that the horror of Tomie is as much about unobtainable love as it is about grotesque, monstrous creatures. The closer Tomie draws to you, the more your mind breaks under the weight. And the more you are compelled toward Tomie, the more horrific your nightmare becomes. This increasing conflict between love and repulsion inevitably causes each person she encounters, no matter how passive or thoughtful, to kill her in some grisly and very bloodied manner. Thus Tomie herself is indeed a monster, but she is also able to twist, through the intensity of the emotion of love, even the most decent soul into a blood-drenched killer on the brink of insanity.

Perhaps for this reason, good Tomie stories will focus on the irrevocable impact of this destructive "love" upon the victim and those around him/her. Such stories will also depict the inevitable frailty of the human psyche when faced with such obsession, a frailty which does not allow one to recover or forget the past, but which permanently changes the individual into something less, perhaps something frightening.

Tomie: Rebirth excels in all these aspects and effectively creates the image of a truly scary Tomie figure whose strength lies not only in her ability to rise from the dead but also in the utter destruction she brings to the mind and lives of those unfortunate enough to encounter her.

The story begins with the crescendo of the relationship between Tomie and Hideo (Shûgo Oshinari, Battle Royale 2 and Aoi Haru) who is lovingly painting a portrait of her. When things suddenly go south (and Hideo ends up slicing Tomie up into pieces), Hideo's friends Shunichi (Masaya Kikawada, Battle Royale 2) and Takumi (Satoshi Tsumabuki, Sabu (as Sabu!) and Dragon Head) stumble into the situation and end up helping Hideo bury Tomie in the woods. When Tomie shows up the next day at a party attended by all three friends (and many more), the nightmare begins and the death toll starts climbing. Collateral damage from Tomie's fatal attraction are the relationships between Shunichi and his widowed mother, and between Takumi and his girlfriend Hitomi (Kumiko Endou). Tomie (Miki Sakai) herself is thoroughly evil yet cute, at least when she is not in one of her many grotesque transformations (such as a slowly crawling head with octopii-like limbs).

This was fun to watch and provides a rather involved story through which some of the scarier intuitions of Ito Junji's original Tomie come through clearly. And how about that ending!?

Version reviewed: Unsubtitled VHS

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Good depiction of Ito Junji's Tomie character, directed by the guy who brought you Juon, The Grudge. Death by painting accident. Death by knife to the neck (and toilet paper to the mouth). Death by being massively bludgeoned and hacked with the edge of a shovel. Death by strangulation. Death by dismemberment into tiny pieces via a grisly hacksaw on the bathroom floor. Death by incineration. Death by hairball from hell. Death by flames of love. And that's not all! No sex here, though the guys are all over Tomie like moths to a flame. (sizzle) The pulsating painting of blood! The slithering head with tiny little hands! The soy sauce coffee from the mother-in-law from HELL! This film does an excellent job of depicting the horrors implicit in Ito's Tomie.

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