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This is one Infection horror fans will want to catch
on 5 July 2005
Japanese horror films truly are a different breed. Infection, from director Masayuki Ochiai, is one humdinger of a creepfest that doesn't spare the gore yet never descends to the level of a hack-and-slash effort. Its vibrantly dark cinematography and appropriately unsettling music provide the background for a veritable orgy of suspenseful horror as its characters' psychological overloads, helped along by a mysterious catalyst, give birth to something exceedingly ugly and quite often disgusting. In a sense, the film is somewhat confusing, in that it never exactly spells out the source of the infection or even the absolute nature of it, but I didn't feel the disappointment some viewers might at the ending.
Central Hospital is in trouble. It's dangerously understaffed, no one has been paid, the director has disappeared, patients are coming to harm because no one is there in a timely fashion to see to their needs, supplies are dangerously low, doctors and nurses are putting in way too many hours to carry the load, etc. Lest you think things could get any worse, well, they most certainly do. It all starts when a mistake leads to the death of a patient. With their backs already to the wall thanks to the deteriorating state of the hospital, the doctors and nurses involved decide to cover up the real cause of death - it was a severe burn victim with no real family, after all. There is to be one more patient admitted to the hospital, however, one literally dumped on them by paramedics. John Doe has the mother of all infections, one that liquefies the internal organs and basically causes the victim to start dropping gooey gobs of green nastiness all over the place. One extremely unemotional doctor, who may or may not have knowledge of the little cover-up so recently planned upstairs, insists on treating the patient, trying to figure out the new pathogen, and thus gaining medical kudos for the effort. Everyone else is just revolted by the poor excuse of former humanity spreading his nasty green goodness all over the floor.
Well, he of the liquefying organs sort of disappears, and the hospital crew enacts a search for their green and gloppy charge. It soon becomes clear, however that - whatever the patient had - it is quite infectious. Rather than call in the health department, they keep on keeping on under the direction of the emotionless pioneer (who I like to call Dr. Gung Ho). Needless to say, they start dropping like flies - well, not like flies, really, as they tend to do something really nasty such as burn their own hands off before commencing with gooey expectorations of the nastiest sort. I'm not sure why the hospital is almost completely dark throughout the film, but it makes for a most creepy of settings, and characters have the disarming tendency of sneaking up quietly behind one another out of the frame. It's really hard to describe the sort of horror that builds up as characters develop the infection, but it's more than capable of spooking and quite possibly disgusting you.
The ending leaves some questions unanswered and may be something of a stretch for some viewers. Even if you find disappointment in the final minutes, though, there is more than enough gory goodness to keep you entertained up to that point. Infection (aka Kansen) is apparently the first film in the J-Horror Theatre series, which apparently aims to shock audiences and teach them the fine art of suspenseful dread. The Japanese are masters at creating atmospheres of indelible horror, and one can only hope that future movies in the series can succeed half as well at Infection in terms of going for the jugular of horror fans everywhere.