Tomie: Replay (Mitsuishi Tomijiro 2000)


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Tomie: Replay

Genre: Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

I guess it was inevitable that the otherwise horrific Tomie receive a major makeover and start walking around in slightly damp lingerie. Apparently no one, not even the most evil among us, is exempt from this required beautification following a few popular films. I mean, even Sadako, the mother of all baddies in Ringu went through a similar transformation, first into a sex-crazed hottie in Rasen and then into a shy and rather angelic young woman in Ringu 0.


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)
Don't get me wrong, the Tomie in Tomie: Replay is not the type of girl you'd want to bring home to mother. Nor is she capable of any long term relationships, due to the inevitable insanity she creates. But there seems to be so much missing from director Mitsuishi's depiction of her that she seems a far cry from the monstrous Tomie envisioned in Ito Junji's manga.

The story's main character is Yumi Morita (Sakaya Yamaguchi), daughter of Dr. Kenzo Morita, founder and head doctor at the Morita Hospital. (For other strange tales taking place in private hospitals, see Donor and Jurei.) Dr. Morita has suddenly disappeared and in her search for him, Yumi discovers his journal describing a very strange series of events following the induction of a young girl into the hospital. Ultrasound of the very distended stomach of the child revealed a strange moving mass inside. After deciding to remove the mass, a small incision is made in the stomach, through which the horrified doctors see a single eye peering out. Suddenly from the stomach a young woman's head pops out proclaiming "I am Tomie.". Being the good scientist that he is, Dr Morita plops the living head into a large tank of slippery solution and points an ever-running video camera at the floating Tomie. When Yumi later watches that tape, in fast motion, she will see that the spinal ganglia are slowly growing out like roots.

Thus is Tomie born in Tomie: Replay. Of course, its not long until she has grown back her entire body and emerges from the tank naked and glistening. (see the video jacket?) She is discovered in this state by Takeshi (Masatoshi Matsuo, of Kairo) who is visiting his friend Fumihito (YĆ“suke Kubozuka, of Makai Tensho and Kyouki no Sakura), a patient at the hospital. At Tomie's behest, he carries her out into the rain, and to his apartment, where she must (of course) get rid of that wet shirt she is wearing and receive a towel buffing from an increasingly happy Takeshi.

When Fumihito calls Takeshi after failing to hear from him for several days, all Takeshi can do is mutter and yell about "Tomie". When Fumihito begins to ask around regarding Tomie, he is overheard by Yumi, who recognizes the name from her father's journal, and the two team up to investigate both Takeshi's predicament and Dr Morita's disappearance. What they find is, well, not a whole lot, other than a weirdly freaked out Takeshi, the creepy rural home of the little girl from the hospital visit, and eventually, the whereabouts of Dr Morita.

So, you're asking, what's so different about this Tomie film?

What it Tomie doing all this time? She's basically giggling and walking about, looking rather pretty. In those very few scenes where she is supposed to be "monstrous", the make-up department adds a little extra mascara to her eyes. It's quite chilling, you know.

Conclusion:

For much more interesting and "true to Ito" depictions of the nightmare which is Tomie, you'll do much better to check out Tomie: Rebirth and Tomie: Final Chapter - Forbidden Fruit

the following paragraph contains "spoilers"

For example, after her inital "relational difficulty" with Takeshi in the early part of the film, neither she nor any of the three main characters meet any sort of untimely demise. In fact, other than some from the original hospital crew present at her head's birth, no one dies in this movie. What then is so scary about Tomie? Not much. Other than the head-in-tank scene, and a quick re-heading (following some abuse by Takeshi), Tomie undergoes absolutely no transformations in this film and her "demonic influence" does harm to only one person, Takeshi. All of these scenes take place very early on in the film and Tomie has very little to do throughout the course of film other than show up for the finale. Add to this rather bland presentation the fact that Yumi and Fumihito walk (or limp) away psychologically unscathed from the entire ordeal, and you've nearly got a jaw-dropping bore fest.

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
This depiction of Tomie is a little too "watered down" (heh) to adequately convey Ito Junji's nightmarish character Tomie. Death by Phone. Some noisy hacksawing through neck. One giant leap for mankind. Death by Pickling. Tomie is looking pretty hot and certainly knows how to use her stuff. But I doubt poor Takeshi got any action before things went south. This film trades creepiness for youthful poses and monstrosity for heavy mascara.

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