Kairo (2001) – Hedgehogs meet the Internet

There is something faintly Proustian about sitting down at a keyboard in order to write about Japanese Horror.  As though biting into a madeleine, I am suddenly transported back to the horrible ICA seating I put up with in order to see Hideo Nakata’s Ring (1998).  I am swamped by memories of girlfriends past, trips to out of the way cinemas, sequels rented on VHS tape and vindictive reviews of terrible American remakes.  It all seems like so long ago and yet it was only the early 00s.  Tempus Fugit.  Sic Transit Gloria Mundi…

Though historically accurate, mentioning Ringu seems somehow inappropriate as,  despite having been a product of the J-Horror bubble (it even earned itself a terrible 2005 American remake), Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo is no mere genre copy-cat.  Clearly influenced by Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972) and Stalker (1979), the film uses genre formulae as a spring-board for exploring philosophical ideas with an almost poetical elegance and softness of touch.  Kairo is, in every way, a remarkable film.

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