by Del Harvey
This DVD is available for purchase at HKFlix.com.
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Investigating detectives Manabu (Eguchi Yousuke) and Tobitaka (Harada Yoshio) don’t know it, yet, but they have just been called to the scene of the first of a series of horribly gruesome murders. The corpse at the first scene appears pretty much intact, until one of them notices that the hair at the back of the scalp looks odd and is lined with blood. Lifting the scalp, they discover the brains have been removed. When they realize this, they also suddenly realize that the delicious aroma coming from the boiling pot on the stove must be the missing body parts. Soon the detectives are chasing what they think are a pair of killers, not knowing that these are just host bodies to a horrible spirit whose only desire is to kill, maim, and terrorize.
Manabu, the younger cop, seems to be going through a particularly tormented period. He wants love, wants something more, but seems to settle easily for the love offered by the young and cute Asako (Ichikawa Miwako), a former perpetrator whom Manabu saved during a former case. She has fallen in love with a man whom she says is “kind, though he does not know it.” As it will turn out, she is much stronger than almost any other character in the film, and she gets a lot of this strength from the often silent, brooding Manabu.
Another Heaven’s premise is quite similar to American films The Hidden, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and Fallen, where a spirit moves from one body to another in order to do its evil. It is a nice twist to encase the story within the guise of a police drama, and quite logical to do so. The main difference between these films comes down to the cultural attitudes about the supernatural. While the American attitude is to shrug off the unseen as “nonexistent,” other cultures would appear surprisingly more open to such suggestions. Thus our detectives in Another Heaven make the leap a little easier than most hard-boiled Americans would. Once this leap is made, we are in for one helluva ride. The cops name this spirit “Something,” and try logic in their processes towards catching the thing.
As they come into contact with the thing in its various hosts, we are shown some quasi-homosexual implications as “Something” seems attracted to Manabu, since he has being attracted to crime itself, although not for any love of the police force or for helping people. In this way the spirit thinks it shares something in common with Manabu, and so does not kill him when given the chance. Eventually we are told that “Something” is an essence of evil from the future, seemingly derived from humanity and which lives in a paradise with no crime. Therefore, the thing wants to find a world, “another Heaven”, where it can be its true, evil self.
The script is very tight and the story easy to follow. This was, in large part, thanks to some of the best subtitles I have seen. The cinematography was very good, although some of the scenes were so close a few times it was a little difficult to tell what was happening. But the movie was shot using highly saturated film stock, making the colors vivid and vibrant, which certainly helps where a supernatural thriller is concerned.
Director Jôji Iida, who directed Rasen (the unofficial sequel to the original The Ring), succeeds with Another Heaven. This is an intriguing film about good vs. evil in the guise of a supernatural thriller, with a cast that draws you in and holds your interest to the very end.
Del Harvey is a writer and the founder of FM, a devout Chicago Bears fan, loves Grant Park in any season, and recently taught screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.
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