A promising young athletics star runs herself to death breaking all the bones in her legs in the process whilst on the other side of Tokyo the groom at a wedding proceeds to strangle himself in front of his entire entourage; in a leafy suburb, an elderly man suddenly throws himself through his window and falls to his own death. Apart from the irrational nature of their deaths, nothing seems to link these deaths together until Detective Sakurai (Ken Utsui) discovers that all of the victims uttered something about a green monkey before dying. A young psychologist (Goro Ingaki) brought in for the case believes that the victims were manipulated by a popular TV hypnotist but Sakurai finds this theory slightly implausible - what motive would he have to kill these people?
Japanese cinema has given us some elegant works of suspense but sadly Hypnosis fails to really scale the heights of the likes of Ring. Although the central themes are not dissimilar from Ring, the execution is quite clumsy and seems more like a TV movie than a truly cinematic work. The film does manage to showcase some genuinely creepy scenes and some deft cinematography but neither the direction nor the plot are strong enough to pull the film out of the lethargy that slowly sets in... The acting is quite a let down too with Utsui going through the motions of being a hard-ass cop whilst Inagaki spends more time making sure his fringe doesn't obscure his sexy features than he does acting. The supporting cast however do make up for this and provide solid performances... Strangely despite the film's topic, the power of suggestion is seldom used and the director succumbs far too easily to use of gore to shore up a faltering film... Although it's not a bad movie per se and is quite effective in its own right, Hypnosis came through as slightly too generic and confused to prick my senses...
The image:The image lacks the sharpness that one would expect from a recent film but the original aspect ratio is at least respected though we sadly don't get an anamorphic transfer. There's also some very annoying anti-aliasing (quite a few scenes suffer from this) which should have been corrected... The colours are quite washed out in the opening scenes but seem to pick up later on which made me think that may have been intended rather than poor encoding...The film print used seems to not suffer too much from blemishes or damage and they did not use a print with burnt-in subtitles. Another problem is that the DVD is only a single-layered which is rather too little given the length of the movie (almost 2 hours)... Overall the transfer is not the best it could have been but still watchable nevertheless...
The sound:We get a relatively clear stereo mix of the original Japanese soundtrack - no English dub is (thankfully) featured. There's little to fault on the soundtrack although given my highly limited Japanse I wouldn't be the best judge about whether or not the voices are clear or not! A 5.1 mix would have maybe enhanced the film quite dramatically but the stereo mix is OK.
The menus:They are quite basic but feature an excerpt from the soundtrack playing in the background and we get 12 chapter stops too which is ample. The English subtitles can also be turned off which is something I'd like to see featured more often.
The extras:We don't really get much bar a brief biography of the director over 2 pages and cast filmographies (directly lifted from imdb.com from what I can see!). We also get some promotional material in the shape of the artwork from their releases of the Warrior series but that's as far as it goes...
Conclusions:Although I didn't personally rate the film too highly, there are probably many who would disagree with me. The film has its moments and can be quite an enjoyable watch with a little patience. The DVD release is acceptable although the video side could have been more worked upon.
Hypnosis is part of the new Eastern Cult Cinema label from Artsmagic Ltd. You can discover more about this and other releases on the Eastern Cult Cinema label via the official Artsmagic website where you can also purchase their titles direct.