I’m usually not a huge fan of fantasy cinema, but this one is so visually stunning it deserves recognition. Based on manga (Japanese comics), the story is narrated by teenage girl, Kirie, as she tells the story of strange happenings in her small town in Japan. It follows a folk tale of spirals and how these moving shapes draw a person in and makes their mind go blank. As the story progresses, Kirie and her boyfriend Shuichi witness how the spiral affects the people around them, causing the citizens to become obsessed or paranoid about spirals. This obsession and paranoia leads to many strange and bizarre deaths, causing Shuichi to believe the town is cursed.
As interesting and original the concept is, the real stunner is the creepy atmosphere created by the impressive and other-worldly visuals. The graphics in this film are the real reason to watch this. There are spirals planted everywhere throughout the film and the director makes an attempt to incorporate spirals as much as possible, even in the most obscure and unnoticeable ways. Spirals are in the clouds, in ice cream, in fingerprints, and more. I would have missed this neat aspect if I were not following the director’s commentary during the film.
I don’t consider this a horror film but it is definitely mysterious and eerie. The idea of a spiral having such great and tragic effects on this small town is mesmerizing. In this sense, it reminds me of the film, Rubber (2010). Both films have an absurdity to them, but still manage to make inanimate objects worthy of terror. Spirophobia could almost be a real thing. The film is effective enough to make you not want to look at spirals too long for fear of hypnosis! Unfortunately, the ending is a little frustrating with the lack of explanation, a common complaint of viewers. The film was made before the manga series was completed so it has a different ending than the original comic. Nonetheless, it is a visual experience worth viewing.
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