Director: Masayuki Ochiai
Cast: Koichi Sato, Masanobu Takashima, Shiro Sano, Yoko Maki, Kaho Minami, Mari Hoshino
Same as Norio Tsuruta's Premonition, Masayuki Ochiai's Infection is part of the "J-Horror Theater" series, and together the two movies serve as the first wave with the other 4 coming out soon (The third installment of the series by Takashi Shimizu is scheduled to release in spring 2006). Compared to Premonition, I would give Infection a higher rating in terms of both the narrative and fun factor.
The entire story happens in a creepy hospital at one single night. The reason why I would call it "creepy" is that no matter the medical staff or the patients, they are all lunatic in a certain sense. The ways they talk are weird, and their behaviors are also bizarre. One night, a group of doctors and nurses are saving the life of a dying patient, but they fail because of a blunder of a nurse. In order to cover it up, they decide to destroy the corpse, and as expected, mysterious and horrible stuff keep popping up. The most interesting thing about this movie is that even though the setting is limited to one night and one location, the director is still able to deliver surprises and entertaining moments one after another and keep the audiences fully engaged from the beginning to the end.
Identical to its J-horror counterparts, the movie also suffers from serious logical problems, but what saves it from being a flop is that the entertainment value does make up for all the irrational part of the movie. Unlike Premonition that relies on the unfolding of mysteries to build up the tension of the narrative, the story here doesn't really require you to connect everything in a very logical and organized sense. You don't necessarily have to unfold any mysteries to enjoy it. What you only need to do is to sit back and enjoy the visual excitement prepared by the filmmaker. Masayuki Ochiai, who understands clearly his own strengths, sacrifices the opportunity to build up a story with intricate web or chains of characters, but rather spends most of his time rendering and refining his scenes, making them as captivating and unforgettable as possible. Fortunately, from the outcome of the finished product, it seems to have successfully proved that he has made the right choice. The cinematography is especially worth noting. The use of color is inventive and it just helps to intensify the ominous and spooky atmosphere a lot. We all know that the hospital and the people are not realistic at all but we are nonetheless seduced by it.
Although Infection is more like an instant pleasure compared to the contemplative Premonition, its theme is nevertheless much easier to grasp than the latter one. Simply put, it is just a magnification of the regretted mind of the sinners who are hoping to redeem, but in a twisted manner. Since I don't want to give out too many spoilers, I guess it is not a bad idea for me to stop disclosing more. Talking about the cast, veteran actor Koichi Sato as the lead male is persuasive as usual, while the rest of the actors have also done a great job.
Infection is an entertaining little piece of work that is worth a look. But bear in mind that it is nothing groundbreaking or pioneer. It is also not something that attempts to offer any new perspective to the genre. Just don't think or expect too much and you'll certainly find it more rewarding.
Cool guy(s) - Shiro Sano
Reviewed by: Kantorates