This bleak yet mesmerising (in the truest sense of the word!) psychological thriller from 1997 finally sees its first UK Home Video release. When a series of bizarre murders occur in Tokyo, Detective Kenichi Takabe’s only link leads to a mysterious stranger who, in each case, seems to have had brief contact with both the killers and the victims. But what about the motives?

When Detective Takabe (Koji Yakusho) is called to a crime scene in a city apartment, the brutal murder of a prostitute seems a straightforward case. However, when the culprit is found and readily confesses the deed without knowing as to why the killing was committed the case doesn’t seem as straightforward as initially assumed. A short time later another brutal murder in another part of town is committed, this time by a husband who killed his wife. Once again the husband, whose marriage was not exactly a happy one, readily admits to the killing but cannot give one reason as to what prompted him to commit murder. Still in the dark, Takabe and the other policemen notice that in each case the victims have a large X carved into either neck or chest but even so, it only confuses more than providing vital clues.

As the strange killings continue, Takabe and criminal psychologist Sakuma (Tsuyoshi Ujiki) finally link the cases with a mysterious young man named Mamiya (Masato Hagiwara): somehow, every person who comes into contact with him commits murder shortly after, and usually without reason. When Mamiya is finally tracked down and taken into custody for interrogation he seems to suffer from a severe form of short-term memory loss, something which considerably hampers the progress of the investigation. To make matters worse, Mamiya turns the table and instead ‘interrogates’ Takabe and others, thus quickly establishing that Takabe, an emotionally repressed man whose marriage to his mentally unstable wife is anything but happy, might be the perfect next candidate for his devilish mind games… Devilish because Mamiya doesn’t suffer from memory loss at all! Instead, he is a master hypnotist and former student of psychology and mesmerism who can hypnotise people at will and make them commit murders. When Sakuma finds an old videotape of the first filmed experiment in mesmerism during which a woman is hypnotised by someone (we never see the face) who draws an X mid-air, Takabe realises that Mamiya might be connected to the past experiment but even if that were the case, how can he be stopped? As Mamiya seems to get more and more hold of Takabe’s psyche and Sakuma is found dead in his apartment – a huge X drawn on his wall, the situation seems to spin out of control… as does Takabe.
The climax is chilling to the bone and suggests an ending which can be interpreted in various ways.

CURE is a slow-burning thriller interspersed with moments of genuine shock and horror – it creeps into our minds that like Mamiya creeps into the minds of those he hypnotises. This is not the neon-lit frantic Tokyo as so often depicted in Japanese thrillers, instead the urban decay and subdued hues serve to underline the psychological fractures of killers and victims – only that here the killers are victims too.
The film is available in Dual Edition Format including bonus features.