Review: Haze

The high-def video production Haze masks its profoundly romantic intentions within a claustrophobic J-Horror façade.

Haze
Photo: Digital Media Rights

The high-def video production Haze masks its profoundly romantic intentions within a claustrophobic J-Horror façade. As the unnamed, amnesia-stricken protagonist (played by writer-director Shinya Tsukamoto) navigates his way through the dank, delirium-inspiring labyrinth that is the film’s central setting, the initially muddled reasons for his imprisonment slowly come clear. The very title suggests the convoluted recesses of memory, a concept that Tsukamoto evokes through a humble implication/incorporation of his audience into the lead character’s point of view. Many directors would no doubt take a god’s-eye perspective of Haze’s hero, but Tsukamoto favors an intimate camera style that offsets the genre film sturm und drang and grounds his movie in a terrifyingly mortal perspective. The maze itself is a creaky mass of slicked-down concrete, disembodied limbs, and rusted pipes (the latter of which figure in a particularly cringe-inducing, shall we say “toothy” set piece) that seems a septic tank repository for mislaid memories. It is in the midst of this literal dark night of the soul that Haze’s hero comes face to face with the woman (Kaori Fujii) who may hold the key to his escape: a forgotten moment of happiness once shared, now subsumed and squashed by the obstructions of a life lived in deadening repetition. Haze is a journey toward a singular, beatific instant of connection and recollection, punctuated by a dual gaze skyward as the heavens open in explosive and glorious greeting.

Score: 
 Cast: Shinya Tsukamoto, Kaori Fukii  Director: Shinya Tsukamoto  Screenwriter: Shinya Tsukamoto  Running Time: 50 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2005

Keith Uhlich

Keith Uhlich is a writer living in Brooklyn. His work has been published in The Hollywood Reporter, BBC, and Reverse Shot, among other publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle.

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