A recent post in Reddit’s r/horror forum is re-igniting interest in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s gripping psychological horror film Cure.
Released in 1997, during the same new wave of Japanese horror cinema that saw crossover success for movies such as Hideo Nakata’s Ringu and Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-On: The Grudge, Cure met with wide critical acclaim internationally and was a hit in Japan, but failed to make the jump over the Pacific when it came to attracting an audience in the U.S.
Cure follows police detective Kenichi Takabe, played by Kōji Yakusho, as he investigates a series of bizarre murders. Every murder victim has been slain in the same way, with a large “X” carved into the back of their neck, and yet the murderers in each case are all completely different individuals. Eventually, all the killings are found to have one, and only one, thing in common: a man named Mamiya, portrayed by Masato Hagiwara. Mamiya suffers from short-term memory loss and is revealed to be a former psychology student and a master of hypnosis. What follows is a descent into psychological as Takabe delves into Mamiya’s motivations and becomes further and further obsessed with him.
Despite a lack of traditional horror tropes such as jump scares or excessive gore, audiences found Cure to be deeply disturbing. The critical consensus on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes lauds Cure as “mesmerizing and psychologically intriguing.” The film holds a 93 percent approval rating on the site. However, some online reviewers, while still praising the film, have characterized it as bleak and even scarring. That may account for the fact that Cure failed to ride the J-horror wave of multinational popularity like its contemporaries.
A recent Reddit post, combined with the films’ current availability on the Criterion Channel streaming service, may be changing that. With one Redditor praising the film as “the best film of the 90s” renewing interest in Cure there’s a chance that Cure may soon come to be as well regarded by American audiences as The Grudge or Ring.
Cure is currently streaming on The Criterion Channel.