Tsukiko Izumisawa (Mami Nakamura; Tokyo Garbage Girl) is constantly having trouble sleeping at night. Images keep haunting Tsukiko, which she believes are connected to the memories she lost in a tragic accident. With the help of Dr. Hosono’s (Yoriko Douguchi; Ju-on) unorthodox hypnotherapy approach, Tsukiko is hoping to find out what happened and why she feels like she lost everything. Meanwhile, Izumisawa’s new downstairs neighbor is a peculiar man with a secret. Yamamoto (Kenji Mizuhashi; Kairo) devotes all of his time and energy to taking care of something in a basket. However, this basket doesn’t seem to hold a pet, because you can see a full head of straight black hair inside. Based on manga author Junji Ito’s beautiful and terrifying character, Tomie from Adness America comes to frighten a new audience.

DVD: Tomie
Release Date: 2/3/2004, Collection 9/19/2006
Release Studio: Adness America

MSRP: $19.99, Collection $29.98
Audio: Japanese 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English
Episodes: 1
Runtime: 95mins
Extras: Tomie trailers, Making of “Tomie”

Notes: Review is based on a Retail purchased copy of the final product.

Tsukiko Izumisawa has a lot of things going for her these days. She’s trying to become a photographer, she has Kaori (Rumi; Living Hell) to galpal with, and she has a boyfriend to snuggle with at night. Yet, the images haunting Izumisawa at night leave her getting little sleep. Dr. Hosono’s hypnotherapy has been able to draw out some names, but the full picture of what really happened is still too complex to understand. Unfortunately, the rest of Tsukiko’s life isn’t going as well as she thought it was. Her best friend Kaori is sleeping with Tsukiko’s boyfriend, Yuuichi Saiga (Kouta Kusano; Kirei), behind her back. No one seems to be too impressed with Izumisawa’s photography. And a detective with the local police department is investigating Tsukiko in connection to the tragic event Tsukiko can’t even remember.

Detective Harada (Tomorowo Taguchi; Tetsuo II: Body Hammer) isn’t a very likable man, and it’s easy to tell why from the moment he approaches Dr. Hosono about Tsukiko Izumisawa. The doctor answers every question the detective asks about Tsukiko (so much for doctor/patient confidentiality) as the detective reveals a rough version of what really happened to Tsukiko Izumisawa that night. Tsukiko was roommates with a new transfer student, Tomie Kawakami (Miho Kanno; Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness). Somehow, Tomie managed to seduce Tsukiko’s boyfriend at the time, Tanabe, and also drive several of the other boys wild with her beauty. However, one evening Tanabe decided to kill Tomie and sliced her into pieces. Several students went mad from the experience with Tomie and some killed themselves before the class was broken up. But the story doesn’t end there. Another Tomie Kawakami with the same physical description and mole beneath her eye suffered the same horrorifying fate with another boy a few years earlier. Dr. Hosono doesn’t really know what to make of the strange story and the detective’s insistence of needing her help with this case.

Yamamoto has been faithfully serving his strange head of hair, which has quickly grown up to be an 18-year-old girl with straight black hair and a mole beneath her eye. Tomie Kawakami is alive and she wants Tsukiko dead. With Yamamoto being too much of a weakling to kill Tsukiko, Tomie kicks him out and heads to the nearby restaurant where Yuuichi Saiga works to try a different approach. Naturally, the owner sees great potential in Tomie and hires her to wait tables. The manager makes sure to remind the staff that employees cannot date each other. Slacker chef Daisuke nudges that the same applies to management, but the manager denies there being such a rule. The madness over who gets to be with Tomie is about to begin anew.

Tomie is a short-story manga series and the idea of stretching it into a 90-minute movie is a painful process. The poor cinemaphotography is more reminiscent of an 80′s film despite its 1999 production origins. The sad results are amateur-looking shots combined with a slow and dreadful plot lacking anything remotely thrilling until the very end. The writer/director Ataru Oikawa (Tokyo Psycho, Tomie: Beginning, Tomie: Revenge) probably even knew the movie was doing poorly in production so a twist ending is tacked on at the very end to try to convince viewers the film is more clever than it really is. Yet you can’t hide poor filmmaking with cliche stunts, like avoiding the revealing of Tomie’s full face for over an hour. Tomie is supposed to be a strikingly beautiful woman and Miho Kanno comes off as a far cry from this despite having the maniacal laugh down pat. Mami Nakamura gives a decent performance for most of the film as Tsukiko Izumisawa, but there isn’t that much required of her character. The supporting cast simply becomes a nightmare of amateur and lifeless performances with Yoriko Douguchi (Dr. Hosono), Tamorowo Taguchi (Detective Harada), and Kouta Kusano (Yuuichi Saiga) leading the pack of who to not call back anytime soon. Campy American B-movies get better actors and line deliveries than this film.

Tomie is a dreaful beginning to what has become an on-going series of psychological horror/thriller films. Poor direction, terrible acting, and a lifeless script plague the first entry into the series to no end. Adness America has done a good job with the video transfer for the single disk and collection version, but the original source material for Tomie can look washed-out at times. The subtitles feature some random timing errors where a line may appear a second or two before or after it is spoken. It won’t hurt your (lack of) enjoyment of Tomie, but it can be an annoyance at times. The DVD extras available are a 28-minute “Making of” featurette and trailers for the five Adness-licensed Tomie films. Tomie lacks a convincing reason why to watch a movie about an immortal demon when her source material is short manga stories. The character is as two-dimensional as the manga version, using stereotypical asian-horror-elements (long, straight black hair is especially common among ‘horror’ characters in asian stories) to make a girl to scare the audience, yet her only new element is that she can be fully re-born from the smallest part of her original body. You are better off avoiding Tomie than attempting to see if she really is beautiful and terrifying in her debut film.