Friday, January 21, 2011

Kansen (Infection) (2004)
JAPAN --- horror

Dir: Masayuki Ochiai

This film plays somewhere between your typical gross-out J-horror and a morality tale. The morality being, always tell the truth, as malpractice will always catch up with you. I suspect this film to be a social commentary on the Japanese healthcare system. "Kansen" takes place in a sort of out-of-the-way, short-staffed hospital. For the first hour or so, we are introduced to all the main characters. It often feels like a boring medical drama in the style of "ER" or "Grey's Anatomy", luckily, the horror elements do kick in. First off, with a suspicious elderly woman who claims to see dead people in reflective surfaces. The real horror begins, however, when an ambulance tries to press a patient with a peculiar rash, on the hospital.

Dr. Akiba refuses, claiming the hospital simply cannot care for him due to the fact they do not have the proper facilities. Akiba rushes to a critical patient upstairs in room #3. The patient falls unconscious and the responding staff fear losing him. Akiba then calls for potassium calcium chloride (which is used in lethal injections to stop the heart) instead of calcium chlorate. In other words they misdiagnose, and the patient ends up dying on them.

The doctors and two other nurses plot to cover-up for the accidental death, and it is from here on out that the green ooze begins to infect the main staff randomly. It is unfortunate that the remainder of "Kansen"s plot is scattershot. While that may work for some films, this has too many subplots and characters to deal with, and resulting in no real solution. Sure, it does tie up character arcs, but you end up feeling an empty loss for the events of the film as they pull you every which way but loose. Director Ochiai does a decent job attempting to balance the film, through use of color themes and freaky camera angles. Beyond that, I can't recommend much here.

"Kansen" was billed as the inaugural release of a proposed 6-part J-Horror film series, from producer Takashige Ichise. One original entry from a different director each time. Unfortunately, it would appear we only got three of those, including this film "Yogen" (Premonition), and "Sakebi" (Retribution).

Fortunately, it would seem the other planned directors made their films anyway, they just didn't include it under the banner of this J-Horror film series. As of this writing, I have not seen all of them, though from what I've seen they all share a similar mind-bending climax. Unfortunately none of the films are highly original in any way, as they were simply conceived to cash-in on the Japanese horror fade quickly.