The Sydney Underground Film Festival (which I covered for RealTime) rarely disappointed with its array of variously edgy, experimental, dark, playful, confronting films. Apart from the fantastically wacky Helldriver, I only saw one other horror movie: the equally off-the-wall Tomie Unlimited. (Helldriver‘s director Yoshihiro Nishimura did the effects on Tomie.) Tomie Unlimited revolves around Tomie (Miu Nakamura), a vengeful schoolgirl who, as the title suggests, cannot be destroyed, but keeps cropping up in an assortment of ever more bizarre and repulsive manifestations, with the primary aim of tormenting her younger sister Tsukiko (Moe Arai).
The film starts off better than it ends, with the opening scene, in which budding photographer Tsukiko takes a series of photographs of Tomie shortly before the latter is impaled in a freak accident, displaying a beautiful build-up. As events progress, however, the story descends into extreme craziness, which, though enjoyable in itself, has an element of farce that differentiates it from profoundly disturbing Japanese horror like The Ring (Hideo Nakata, 1998).
While it’s not strictly horror, mention must be made of Jon Hewitt and Belinda McClory’s thriller X, the closing film of the festival. Set and shot in Sydney’s King’s Cross, it’s a dark, nail-biting, very genre-based foray into this city’s rotten heart, led by stand-out performances from Viva Bianca and Hanna Mangan-Lawrence.
Jump across to RealTime to read more about X, Tomie and a selection of other festival films. http://www.realtimearts.net/article/issue105/10451