A small Japanese hospital is suffering from severe financial
deprivation to the point that pharmaceutical companies are
refusing to send them new supplies. Even the wages are late,
but one young doctor convinces the other small handful of
doctors and nurses working the night shift that they all have
a moral obligation to look after their existing patients.
One such patient with very severe burns somehow falls out
of bed and abruptly goes into arrest. When the hospital staff
attempt to revive him, the incorrect drug is administered
resulting in the patient's death. For their own professional
careers and the reputation of the hospital the small group
of staff decide to cover-up the mistake. From the point they
artificially heat the body so that it atrophies more quickly,
events begin to take a sinister path. A woman patient talks
incessantly to any reflective surface, as if she can see someone
within the glass. A little boy turns up sporadically wearing
a cat mask, and worst of all a highly infectious patient has
been left with them by an ambulance. It quickly degenerates
into a viscous slime which spreads a contagion of madness
through the hospital. But are these events too unreal to be
is the second of six unrelated J-Horror films to come
from the producers of The
Ju-on: The Grudge, and Dark Water. As far as
I'm concerned the announcement of any new quality Japanese
(or indeed, East Asian) horror movies is cause for celebration.
But does this example live up to the hype?
Yes and no. I realise it's supposed to be the night shift
and the hospital has no money, but the perpetually dark scenes
make you feel the characters are wandering around the offices
of an abandoned factory rather than a health authority building.
The director Masayuki Ochiai wanted to turn the safe haven
of a hospital into a place of terror, but I think the attempted
oppressive claustrophobia is perhaps unrealistic for a hospital.
Also, there is no genuine creepiness or supernatural scares
that we've come to expect from this part of the world. Instead,
Ochiai resorts to the cheap trick of sound jolts, with a character
turning to discover someone standing right behind them. It's
lucky the sound quality is so good or even this tactic would
prove ineffective. Believe me, there's no need for this trickery
because Infection has a lot to offer in other areas.
Primarily the film is highly original in its concept. The
idea of a highly infectious mental contagion of unknown origin
is inspired, because once you know how it spreads you can
no longer totally trust what you see as being real. The young
doctor is the last character to feel the effects, and in hindsight
it's obvious why; the vast majority of events are witnessed
by him personally. You wonder early on if it is because he
was the last person to reluctantly agree to the cover-up.
I won't give the end away, but I will say that the conclusion
is not beyond the realms of predictability. The clues are
are some nice set-piece moments. A young nurse who is continually
refused the opportunity to administer injections suddenly
decides to quite brutally practice on herself and, similarly,
a man practices sutures on an artificial subject, only to
realise, quite illogically, that he has been working on the
burns victim. The green gelatinous ooze is effective when
seen as infection in a mirror, but is so overdone throughout
the film that you begin to wonder if the crew won a lifetime
supply of Swarfega hand cleanser.
I can understand the intentions of the writer and director;
this is something different which moves quickly enough to
keep you watching, but it just isn't scary and that was my
major disappointment. On the extras I watched a trailer for
Premonition, the first release in the J-Horror Collection,
and it looked infinitely more superior. I'll look forward
to seeing that one.
extras include: ten separate Interviews with cast and crew;
the Japanese Press Conference; a Movie Trailer;
a dull Behind the Scenes featurette; and a Digital
Effects Exposed short. The packaging mentions deleted
scenes and film notes but, bizarrely, neither of these of
present on the disc.