Netflix Review: Homunculus (2021)

Certificate: 18

Director: Takashi Shimizu

Screenwriter: Hideo Yamamoto (manga)

Starring: Gô Ayano, Anna Ishii, Yukino Kishii

Genre: Drama, Fantasy

Runtime: 115 Minutes

Language: Japanese

Rating: 2 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

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Truth and illusion blurs when a homeless amnesiac awakens from an experimental medical procedure with the ability to see people’s innermost traumas. – From IMDB

This was a film of two halves for me.  The first half I really enjoyed, liking the dark, twisted atmosphere, and the set up for the story seemed to be going somewhere interesting.  Then in the second half the pace slowed right down, the general tone of the film changed completely, and it became a much less coherent, somewhat confusing jumble.  And ends with a very lacklustre finale, that isn’t worthy of all the build up it got.

The visuals in this fil are stunning, and do a lot of the work to give this film it’s creepy and unsettling vibe.  I was disappointed in the second half when the majority of the imagery went away, it meant the film lost the atmosphere that it really had going for it, and it meant the second half of the film felt very disjointed from the first.  The opening storyline about Nokoshi helping people to overcome their traumas was interesting and could have made for a great movie, but it was abandoned quickly in the second half in exchange for delving more into his backstory.

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The performances were all great though, especially from Ryô Narita who plays Ito, out ‘Mad Scientist.’  He had the most to deliver in terms of emotions and character range, so his performance was an important one, and he did brilliantly.  Ranging from the verge of mania and insanity to the very level headed scientist that we see at the hospital, he stuck the landing in every scene. 

There is a point about halfway through, where there is a very odd, and out of place scene, featuring some fairly graphic sexual violence.  And that really wasn’t at all necessary.  It wasn’t needed to further the plot, and it didn’t need to be as drawn out as it was.  In fact all the female characters are down played a lot in this film.  Given little or nothing to do other than being in need of rescuing, or being seen as a villain in some way. 

From other reviews I have seen, I understand that this film has majorly mishandle the source material it was based off of, and that the story in the manga is very, very different.  A lot of the fans seem very displeased with this adaption, so I recommend you bare that in mind if you are a fan of the original story.

A bit too weird and disjointed for me, the set up and opening premise were great, but it lost it’s way in the second half.

‘Homunculus’ is streaming now on Netflix.

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