Id (Ido) (2005)

Take a peek into the realm of unconscious.
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Id - Take a peek into the realm of unconscious

When you can't really understand what the cover blurb is saying to you, then you know you're in for an "interesting" experience with a movie, and - credit where credit's due - Id (2005) is an interesting experience alright. The problem here is trying to overlay a conventional review on a film which is anything but conventional. From the earliest scenes, Id shows its unwillingness to work along recognisable lines of character, plot and pace; what we do get, however, is an introduction to a shambolic, mysterious figure, who follows a mysterious female voice out of his woodland home - and straight into a swollen river, oops, which carries him downstream to a small town...

The people there rescue him and take him in; he, mute (except for the harmonica he nicks from a small boy) seems beset with violent flashbacks or dreams, and continues to feel the influence of that odd voice, calling to him. Eventually, he finds his way to a nearby factory adjoined by a pig farm, as you do, and takes up residence in one of the dormitories amongst the, shall we say, quirky staff team. Strange goings-on inevitably follow, and when staff members begin getting bloodily dispatched, our protagonist's strange set-up brings him back to the voice and the mysterious message which brought him there in the first place...

Thing is, writing it all down like that looks misleading and, to be honest, to make it make sense on paper, I've had to do some pretty hefty work with what I've just watched. This isn't a film which follows a plot as such; what it does is take some broad themes, and then plays with those themes in a series of vignettes which are loosely grouped together into chapters. That's basically it. The dialogue is scanty, the pace varies, and character development is something that happens to other people - so if you like exposition, then forget this one, quite frankly. You'll only be disappointed. If on the other hand you don't mind being immersed in a kind of cross between surrealism and slapstick, a film which veers from imprecations to Buddha to irrelevant buttocks and men in drag, then welcome aboard.

The themes themselves are pretty intangible. Largely speaking, the film plays around with the importance of language (repeatedly hammering home the message that animals, being non-verbal, cannot be finally redeemed by Buddha), voyeurism, and of course, as per the title, there are some Freudian type ideas floating around as well. The 'well of Id' is an idea which crops up several times during the film - and the concept of the "id", the part of the unconscious mind which demands satisfaction of the most base desires and needs to be reined in by the higher functions, is returned to again and again. Is it played out in any recognisable way? No, duh, but it is used as an excuse for some seriously visually-arresting scenes anyway. When you opt to use the unconscious mind as your arena then there really is very little off-limits, you know? Men dressed as schoolgirls, faces falling off, giant pig men...everything is permitted.

If this film has any sort of precedent, it's in the cinema of Jodorowsky - and a few of the scenes in Id resemble his work with their weird symbology and style. Id looks pretty cool - shot on 16mm, it has a grainy, low-grade look to it which clashes nicely with the gallons of bright red blood which directrix/actress Kei Fujiwara enjoys splashing around here. The ominous, discordant soundtrack which runs throughout adds to the atmosphere, too, and atmosphere is the main calling card of the film.

All of that said - is Id a good movie? Personally, I'd say it's more an experience, memorable, but without necessarily being "enjoyable". It's protracted, nonsensical and by default, fairly inaccessible. This is perhaps not a film which gives too much of a shit about having fans, being more an excursion into abstract subject matter via absurd means; if your curiosity about this oddball movie supersedes your need for it all to make sense, then by all means, check it out.
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies

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