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Henge - Movie Poster
Original Title:

Japan 2012


Hajime Ohata

Kazunari Aizawa
Aki Morita
Teruhiko Nobukuni

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aka Metamorphosis

Story: Yoshiaki Kadota (Kazunari Aizawa) lives with his wife Keiko (Aki Morita) in a small house of a quiet town. For quite some time he suffers from strange seizures that no one can explain. The couple seeks the help of Minoru Sakashita (Teruhiko Nobukuni), a former colleague back from when Yoshiaki still practiced medicine. Minoru tries to get to the bottom of the seizures by using hypnosis. Especially unsettling is that Keiko has seen a part of Yoshiaki's body turning into something strange before. Under hypnosis Keiko's husband talks in an ancient tongue, which is said to have been used to communicate with animals in the old days. During the seizures Yoshiaki believes that bugs in his head are whispering to him. When Minoru sees for himself how his former colleague turns half into an unknown being he persuades Keiko to section her husband. But Yoshiaki escapes and turns up at his wife's door again. At the same time there are reports in the news of some odd murder cases and mutilated victims. Is Yoshiaki in some way connected to this?

Review: As Yoshiaki Kadota awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect-like creature. Yes, there are without a doubt parallels to Kafka's "The Metamorphosis", sadly they are not further made use of. Metamorphoses have intrigued people since the beginning of time, Ovid also created a work with the same title. However, "Henge" doesn't attempt to be more than it actually is: a short body-horror movie that is also an homage to movies like "Tetsuo" or "Gamera". The low-budget production has to struggle with some problems, though. For instance there is of course the mediocre and at times even bad special effects, but there is also too little substance leading to disappointment in the end.

Henge - Film Screenshot 11

Still, you have to admit that in some way "Henge" is also interesting. Most likely that is because of its unusual atmosphere, that the director sets up over time. The house of the married couple is held in bright white and it somehow lacks real individuality. The same goes for the two protagonists in general. Is this intentionally so? Is there maybe even a message hiding behind this, a parallel that has to be drawn to Kafka's "Metamorphosis"? It's not easy to tell if we are maybe just looking for some profoundness because we can't imagine that this is supposed to be all. Acting-wise there are accordingly rather minimalistic efforts. Kazunari Aizawa is crying out loud most of the time and Aki Morita ("Dolls") can at best give her character more colors on a subtle level in the later course of the movie.

Henge - Film Screenshot 12

Yoshiaki turns into another being in different stages and at the beginning he also doesn't turn completely but always transforms back to his human exterior. Why and what he actually is, those are questions that aren't answered. Strange as it is this proves to be one of the film's strengths and is partly also responsible for the unusual mood. We have some sort of extramundane being in front of us that speaks in a lost tongue. It represents the thoughts of all animals of this world, we are told in one scene. This might all sound a bit absurd, but it nonetheless also evokes the same kind of horror that we know of H.P. Lovecraft's stories about the "Ancients". To achieve that in spite of the low budget is an effort that deserves some praise.

Yet, apart from that the movie has to put up with a lot of criticism. There are a few pretty absurd scenes. Strangely enough, "Henge" looks only half as cheap as it should during those moments - but ultimately it's still cheap. A lot of this concerns the special effects. That the main character is in a rubber suit ater all isn't that bad in fact, it looks convincing enough if you are willing to take it for granted. Where it does become problematic are the computer generated blood splatters, which don't leave any traces in the surrounding area, as well as missing bullet holes during one scene. There could have been achieved more with only little extra costs. Moreover: The ending, also standing as an homage to the aforementioned movies, may admittedly be somwhat funny, but it still seems rather odd.

Henge - Film Screenshot 13

As things progress it turns out, though, that not the monster is actually in the movie's focus but the wife, who shows an unusual kind of loyalty towards her husband. An interesting choice, but it also adds to the fact that "Henge" generally feels odd. Furthermore, the score constantly pushes itself to the foreground during the later half, which is a good thing as it proves to be one of the film's strength points. Nevertheless, despite interesting ideas this body-horror film, ticking in at merely 54 minutes, is clearly falling short of what it could have been. Low budget or not. It's difficult to pass judgement on this movie, because it isn't outright bad, thanks to an at times well achieved atmosphere. It's just simply... odd.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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