Cure (1997)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa directs Kōji Yakusho, Masato Hagiwara and Tsuyoshi Ujiki in this Japanese serial killer mystery where a group of murders are easily solved, each perpetrator is found disorientated near their victim, but a dogged detective feels a creepy drifter might be equally culpable for the crimes.

*** POSSIBLE SPOILERS *** Cure didn’t even get a cinema release in the U.K. in the late Nineties but has grown in cult reputation and stature over the past two decades. This was my first viewing and it has pretty much everything I like and need in a new favourite. An unsettling narrative, never fully resolved, so you pick and pull at the puzzling loose ends long after. This could keep you up at night worrying about what was real and who has become whom. I shan’t discuss my theories on the playfully open dreamlike second half but will say it still works throughout as an accessible thriller. A rebellious detective, cut from a different cloth from his colleagues, gradually solves the bizarre mystery. A villain emerges who is unnervingly blank. Seemingly brain damaged, he cannot remember who he is, or focus on conversations for more than three sentences, responding to every interaction with non sequitur queries of his own… then insidiously after he has baffled those around him he becomes in control of people. A devil… a puppet master… one who has evaded the scene long before deadpan violence erupts and whose grand scheme or method is never truly revealed. Masato Hagiwara is fantastically obtuse in the antagonist role, evoking a supernatural disconnection and virulent undercurrent of genius. Koji Yakusho is equally compelling as the outsider detective, smarter than everyone else but not clever enough to realise staring too long into this particular abyss will warp him too. Kiyoshi Kurosawa directs it with a clinical precision that gives way to a spaced out surrealness. The look of the film is clearly influenced by the dank dystopian interiors of Se7en or The Silence of the Lambs. The central hero / nemesis dynamic owes a debt to The Usual Suspects. This forgotten gem is clearly an influence on Bong Joon Ho’s Memories of Murder. But the feeling it reminded me of the most was the shifting unease and unnavigatable warping of time and space you get watching David Lynch. He executed similar mindfucks with both Fire Walk With Me and Lost Highway. If any of those half a dozen mentioned revered classics are your cup of tea then quite the sanity altering jewel awaits you with Cure. I can see the below score rising on revisits.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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