Kotoko (2011, Shinya Tsukamoto)

This fits in nicely with Tsukamoto’s Haze and Nightmare Detective, which featured lead characters more convincingly distraught and psychologically unbalanced, more grimly depicted than you’re used to seeing in horror movies (always with crazed handheld camera). Now we’ve got a young mother (Cocco, who also wrote the story and songs and did art direction) living alone with her toddler. Just that simple character setup (young mother + child) is enough to make you cringe if you’ve seen any Tsukamoto movies.

Sure enough, she is extremely tormented, overprotecting the child at some times and plotting to murder him at others. Actually she does murder him onscreen, but since the movie reflects her baffled view on reality, he turns up alive a minute later. Fortunately (as rarely happens in horror movies) people notice that she’s clearly an unfit mother, take the son away and leave him with relatives, and Kotoko passes the time between her allowed visits sitting home, cutting her arms and watching them bleed.

But where’s Tsukamoto, who likes to star in his own films? He plays an award-winning novelist (his first book is entitled Bullet Dance) who begins stalking Kotoko after hearing her sing on a bus. He’s concerned for her safely, encourages her to cut him instead of herself. That relationship is going alright until he turns out to possibly not exist… and she’s excited that she’s getting her son back until that also turns out not to be true. Epilogue, she’s in the loony bin being visited by her now-teenage son and doing crazy crying dances in the rain.

The first few minutes are insane – Kotoko sees people as twins, has to quickly determine which of the two is the evil one trying to destroy her so she can fight back. “I don’t see double when I am singing.” The movie’s a bit long (have I mentioned that I love Haze‘s 50-minute length?), padded by Cocco’s songs.

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