Isola (Isola: Tajuu jinkaku shôjo) (2000)

Chihiro suffers from muliple personalities - and one of them is deadly.
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Isola (Isola: Tajuu jinkaku shôjo) - Chihiro suffers from muliple personalities - and one of them is deadly

Although filled with traditional Japanese horror supernaturalness, wild flights of fantasy and schoolgirl beatings, Isola (Isola: Tajuu jinkaku shôjo) is not a traditional J-Horror with long black haired sexy ghosts crawling along ceilings and jump scares via dead people's reflections. The majority of the movie creates an air of mystery through some severe mental illnesses and some brutal life situations that have afflicted the players in the game, but fret not if you need a fantastical escape from dreary realism, as said mental illnesses consist of the kindly Tokyo aid volunteer Yukari Kamo (Yoshino Kimura) and her ability to read minds and Chihiro Moritani (Yû Kurosawa) and her 13 personalities... one of which is a killer!

There are numerous cultural inappropriately inspired scenes which amplifies the brutalness for the Western world, not saying that this behaviour is appropriate in the East but such things are almost unthinkable in a US movie and quite common in Asian cinema. Notably the severe beating of Yukari by Chihiro's molestery Uncle and Chihiro's "smack down the stairs" from her school teacher for pulling a silly face, both acts which seem more inappropriate than a "touching tribute" at Westley Allen Dodd's funeral (I'm going to Hell if anyone gets that!)

Chihiro is a messed up schoolgirl traumatized by a car accident that happened when she was 5 which resulted in the death of her parents and a shattering of her one personality into many. Luckily her Uncle decides to look after her so that he will not lose the family inheritance, unluckily he is a violent pervert and he doesn't really help with the speedy recovery of Chihiro's mental state. Chihiro is bullied at school and outside of school for her freakiness and her only friends are her other personalities, Toko, Yoko, Hitomi, Mitsuru, Sho, Shuri, Noriko... errr... Sleepy, Sneezy and Dopey... maybe. Each personality seems to have a different detrimental effect on Chihiro from self-harming to inspiring the murder of dogs!

Meanwhile Yukari Kamo has come over from Tokyo to volunteer her caring skills for the survivors of the 1995 Kobe earthquake. Her caring abilities are enhanced by her ability to hear the thoughts of others but she is also cursed with this talent as she has no control of it but luckily has drugs to control the condition that is now internationally recognised as "Cameron Vale Syndrome". Soon Chihiro and Yakari walk along paths that cross at a self-harming junction and Chihiro becomes the underarm feathers of Yakari's metaphorical wing.

Intrigued with Chihiro's condition Yakari investigates the numerous personalities and discovers that "One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong". The odd one out is Isola who may or may not be the separated part of an out-of-body experience that gained residence in the mind of an already devastated psyche after the host body died in the earthquake (covered in sticky white stuff I must add... but Ed Gein was not available to comment) while partaking in a separating of spirit from physical body experiment in an IOSLAtion tank... maybe. Isola is out for revenge and with her out of body possession powers she may just get it.

Isola a fairly innovative Japanese horror and manages to avoid jumping on any commercial bandwagons to gain viewers from stereotypes originated in Ringu. Gore is minimal but what little there is makes good use of surprising the supporting cast members and the audience, the violence is much more of a shocker than the gore simply because of the inappropriateness in accepted societal circles currently in fashion and there is an in-depth yet slightly preposterous storyline to maintain interest. There are a few ominous scenes inspiring a slight twitch in the underwear but overall this is more of a "tale of horror" rather than relentless suspense or a cacophony of shocks and scares, the mystery element keeps the viewer captivated and the conclusion is quite a rerouting from the first part of the story. In summary, viewing Isola is like the dissociative identity disorder sufferer's equivalent of receiving 13 hand-jobs from 13 different people... it is helped by 13 personalities but may become less of a thrill if you don't put it down in between.
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies

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