Happy Halloween month! I’m going to write a bit about a different horror movie every day. These are not my favorites of all time, just some that I think deserve a look. Most of them will not be on anyone’s best-of lists, but you may find something here that you missed before. Who wants to read another list about Freddy, Jason, Michael, and the other guys in the band when we can dig up some new friends?
Made for international distribution during the J-Horror craze of the early 2000s, Infection takes a risk and mostly sets aside the black haired ghosts that made Japanese horror so popular. Instead, it conjures up the nearly universal fear of hospitals, achieving a mood of darkness and dread even though it lacks in plot. If we use horror movies to safely explore our fears, and I believe I do, we can be comforted by the fact that any health problems we have are probably going to be minor compared to what happens in this movie!
Set in a financially struggling hospital, Infection takes place in one night when the hospital can’t handle any more patients. Over the radio an ambulance begs for any medical facility in earshot to take a patient with weird symptoms. Although no one responds, the ambulance comes to our setting (otherwise there wouldn’t be a movie). When the patient gets to the hospital, the staff are consumed with another problem: a burn victim has fallen out of bed and then is killed by a dosage mistake. Meanwhile the ambulance staff has dropped off the patient, who lies forgotten in the ER until he liquifies in a puddle of green goo before somehow managing to escape into the air vent system. Feeling sick yet?
Not only does the virus become airborne, the staff are going insane, and then there are a couple of ghosts and a whole lot of murder. Body horror abounds but jump scares are nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, there is a confusing twist, and then another one, and then it seems that the only virus in this movie is the viral idea that every movie has to have a twist. But the overall effect is still very creepy, thanks mostly to a dementia patient who has the run of the hospital and a mysterious doctor who never turns his head. While all the other actors playing doctors and nurses are engaging in soap opera level histrionics, this one guy steals the show with his body language and flatly intoned lines. It’s an effective contrast, whether or not it is intentional.
Infection is not even close to the best hospital horror, which in my opinion would be Exorcist III, and not even the best of the series of J-Horror Theater releases it belongs to, as that would be Reincarnation. However, it is one I revisit every few years, so that’s why I added it to my month of Halloween horror posts. What is your favorite Japanese horror of the early 2000s? Your favorite hospital horror?