HENGE (Hajime Ohata: 2011)

When her husband, Yoshiaki Kadota (Kazunari Aizawa) starts suffering from strange fits and hallucinating that he is being taken over by giant bugs, Keiko (Aki Morita) tries to help him by calling in an old friend, Minoru Sakashita (Teruhiko Nobukuni) that Yoshiaki was at medical school with. At a loss of what to do, Yoshiaki allows Sakashita to take Yoshiaki away in order to try and discover what is causing his fits. However Sakashita is more interested in Keiko than curing Yoshiaki and coveting his friend’s wife will turn out to be a deadly affair when Yoshiaki discovers Sakashita trying to convince Keiko to run away with him. The bonds between husband and wife however are threatened when Keiko discovers that not only does her husband transform into a giant monster but that he is behind a series of brutal murders that have left the police baffled. Will Keiko stand by her man/monster?

With shades of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis (1915) as reconfigured in Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986), Henge manages to combine almost seamlessly a powerful love story and the daikajiu genre. This is due both to the skilful direction of Ohata and the nuanced performances of the leads, which means by the time that Henge becomes an out-and-out monster film; we are already invested in the characters and care more about Yoshiaki and Keiko than the monster being defeated. Henge is a must see for anyone who is a fan of the daikajiu genre and/or monster films more generally as well as fans of Japanese horror cinema. This is a film that transcends genre restrictions, and I would highly recommend seeing it on the big screen.

Henge is playing as part of the Terror Cotta Horror Night, in association with Fright Fest that is taking place Friday, 7th June 2013. You can book tickets directly from Prince Charles Cinema

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