Tomie: Another FaceMany beautiful women have power over men. Tomie has a little bit more.
The film Tomie: Another Face is split into three different chapters, each of which showcases a different element of the Tomie character, who also appeared in 1999's Tomie, 2000's Tomie: Replay, 2001's Tomie: Rebirth, 2002's Tomie: Forbidden Fruit, and Tomie: Beginning and Tomie: Revenge, both released in 2005. The character first appeared in Junji Ito's Japanese horror comics. The DVD is in Japanese, with English subtitles. I haven't seen the rest of the films, or the comics, and I might be a little sick of the character if I had. However, I am not so after watching her for the 95 minutes this lasted, which puts Tomie: Another Face high above Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
The film begins with the first chapter, and Tomie is in high school. When her classmates hear she has been found dead, they are understandably shocked. Takashi, Tomie's boyfriend, seems to have been hit the worst, and his friend Miki, who is ever so slightly in love with him, steps in to cheer him up. Both they, and the rest of their classmates, are amazed when Tomie shows up at school the next day, as if nothing had happened. Most of them convince themselves that it must have been a coroner's mistake, and try to dismiss the event. Miki, however, finds it somewhat suspicious, and Takashi has his own reasons for being horrified.
Although Miki cannot be unhappy that Tomie isn't dead, she is exactly happy with the situation either, especially when she sees Tomie kissing another man. She tries to persuade Tomie to break up with Takashi, but the scene turns ugly, and Miki and Takashi soon have a lot more than a clingy girlfriend to deal with.
Takashi and Miki.
In the second chapter, a photographer, Mori is searching for his perfect women. He already found her once, when he was a young boy, and now it seems that no model can possibly match up. He heads back to the small town where he grew up, although he doesn't expect to find her there. Instead, he hopes that returning to the old environment might inspire him out of the slump he seems to be in.
Therefore, he gets more than he had hoped for when he meets a young woman who is the spitting image of his first love. Assuming that this girl, Tomie, is the woman's daughter, they spend a day snapping photographs of her. But Mori's happy mood is destroyed when he develops the images, to see something there that wasn't there before.
Miki and her friends discussing Tomie's death.
In the third and final chapter, businessman Yasuda is just about to propose to his girlfriend, Tomie, when they are attacked by a mysterious man. They escape unscathed, but Tomie soon turns on Yasuda and ridicules him for not defending her, and running away instead. Yasuda is eventually convinced to kill the man. But, when the two finally meet face to face, the mysterious stranger has a story to tell which may cause Yasuda to change his mind.
Since most characters have only a third of the amount of screen time as in most films, they are undeveloped in comparison. Tomie herself, although onscreen three times as much as any other given character, is supposed to be mysterious and difficult to decipher.
Tomie and Mori.
It may have been due to this that I found Takashi, in the first chapter, difficult to believe in. His reactions seemed somewhat unnatural, without the back-story necessary to show what was on his mind. The actor is very attractive in an edgy boy-next-door kind of way (he resembles a Japanese version of Neoseeker's own Zorro), and, in fairness, later revelations of Tomie's character spill a little light on his circumstances. Still, his performance struck me as the least believable. Well, not his performance, exactly; more, I did not fully understand his character motivations, so some of his actions were incomprehensible and seemed illogical.
Mori, in the second chapter, I felt gave the best performance. He's completely believable as the photographer. Another aspect, which may have helped my opinion, was the build up of suspense that had been achieved by that point. I was literally on the edge of my seat, thinking how odd it was that he didn't notice how cold Tomie's flesh was expecting something horrible to happen at any moment. A good part of this is due to the actress Runa Nagai. Her Tomie is very sweet, and adorable, but there's something subtly creepy lurking under the surface.
Much of the film seems to echo Koji Suzuki's Spiral, the second book in the infamous Ring series. Tomie herself, and certain supernatural elements of her remind me of Sadako, while her relationship with Mori, particularly one scene, was very similar to a scene between Sadako and Ando.
A newly-revived Tomie.
The use of the sweet, childlike song used whenever Tomie does something creepy is fairly effective, although overused – i.e., a Nightmare on Elm Street's 1,2, Freddie's coming for you, Project Zero: The Tormented's Sleep Priestess, Lie in Peace, or many other examples.
Some of the special effects were a little shoddy, and sometimes a wound was obviously fake. Occasionally, an action would seem to be carried out because it was in the script, rather than because it was a characters natural movement.
In summary, Tomie is a pretty good, in some ways very traditional, Japanese horror film. There's very little blood and gore, and an extremely low body count, especially considering the amount of deaths. Still, it manages to be extremely creepy - hence why I stayed up writing this, rather than turn the lights out and sleep. This film had, I believe, the lowest budget of the Tomie films, going straight to video/DVD instead of having a cinematic release, so the other films may be even better. However, Another Face has a charm all it's own.