Tomie: Unlimited (Tomie: Anrimiteddo) (2011)Exist everywhere, extend everywhere.
Keen adolescent photographer Tsukiko witnesses the violent death of her sister Tomie. It becomes apparent that Tomie was the favoured child with the looks, talent and popularity that makes Tsukiko pale in comparison. Tomie arrives back at the family home just in time for her post-mortem birthday celebrations, she appears unharmed and is welcomed back by her parents with open arms. They soon realise the danger and evil she brings with her into the house is far worse than walking on the carpet with outdoor shoes.
The focus is very much centered around Tsukiko’s teenage angst, her jealousy and regrets. The new Tomie is out to destroy her younger sister emotionally by alienating her from her friends, family and any potential chances of love. These acts of mental abuse are much more disturbing than the madness which ensues in the latter part of the film. There are a few scenes that really perturb as Tomie turns her parents against their other child and, to compound the distress, Tsukiko is caught wondering if she deserves this treatment for not living up to society's expectations.
There is a moralistic element to the story but this is kept vague enough to remain open to interpretation. There is an element of empowerment from Tsukiko as she emerges from the shadow of her elder sister. The message is confusing but is comparable to the good work that Visitor Q provides in Takashi Miike’s non-tentacle porn movie involving mysterious home intruders.
Iguchi’s intent was to make a serious horror film, an easy to understand action horror with underlying themes of turmoil and dysfunctional family values to induce terror in the audience that would also provide an ambiguous level of depth should the viewer be looking for something more substantial. Whether as a result of cultural differences or a recollection of his previous works it is difficult to comprehend that Tomie: Unlimited takes itself seriously. A number of scenes provide a sense of creepiness. These scenes are mostly creepy because of the lackadaisical attitude towards parental violence at the expense of offspring and suggestions of underage incestual lesbianism making the innocence of bathtime between siblings seem to tempt impure thoughts from those inclined to have them. The parentals become obsessed with Tomie which is once again creepy, jumping from her father eating her hair to murder quite swiftly. The obsession is due to Tomie’s charm, her superpower is emotional manipulation. When things get crazy and terrifying for Tsukiko the audience can comfortably sit back and be entertained by the fast-paced bedlam with no fear of a fright despite the murder, monstrosities and mayhem.
Once the mayhem begins to kick off things start to get very peculiar. The film doesn’t switch instantly from emotional to physical but the transition period is rather short lived and once things start to get crazy the madness rises exponentially. The effects are a mixture of puppetry and bad CGI. The non-computer effects are reminiscent of the work seen in Hennenlotter films and Iguchi confirms that Basket Case was an influential film for him. Some of the more bizarre sequences are the work of Yoshihiro Nishimura (probably best known for his work on Tokyo Gore Police) who was able to implement some of his own ideas which shaped the way the film turned out. The centipede made of Tomie heads delivering a vaginally based death can be chalked up to him. Some of the effects do look very fake but trying to be more realistic may have made the film fail in its objective to be over the top.
Overall Tomie: Unlimited is a bit of a mess and seems unfocused as to what is trying to be achieved. The messages and observations are there but aren’t as blatant as Iguchi has made them in other films, a number of themes are looked at but none seem to pan out into anything substantial. There is a musical ending followed by a much shorter shock ending, neither of which really bring any closure and once again introduce ambiguity as to what the real message is. For entertainment purposes this film definitely delivers, maybe the convoluted message detracts from this a little and encourages criticisms where there is no need. If not over analysed then Tomie: Unlimited provides throwaway entertainment and an amount of craziness guaranteed to leave an impression.