Tetsuya Nakashima (Confession, The World of Kanako) has always been known as a visual extravagant with a flair for narrative overdrive. With a portfolio of bleak murder mysteries that always haunt long after the end of the movies, Mr. Nakashima now steps further into horror territory with It Comes (also known as Kuru), an adaptation of Ichi Sawamura novel, Bogiwan ga Kuru. Similar to his most notable works, even in his horror debut, his movie is outright dark, mysterious, visceral and demanding. At one point, this horror reminds me of the cult-making Korean horror, The Wailing; what makes it different is: it’s campier and bigger in scale.
Putting It Comes into a short, comprehensive synopsis is difficult because this horror is an extensive, long-winded opera comprising of many characters, conflicts, and mysteries. Audiences are invited to the traffic jam full of harrowing Japanese lore, a series of excruciating imagery, and striking violence. The titular ‘it’ never makes explicit on-screen apparitions; but, the haunting and, most importantly, the damage is real. At times, the ominous presence feels is described as an invisible curse; but, at times, it feels as if the same conjuring power lurks in the dark to catch the protagonists (and the audiences) off guard. With Nakashima’s reputation to max up to the visual and narrative, It Comes makes sure that the ambitious story is all served like a frenzy.
The kudos should be granted to Ichi Sawamura, whose literary prowess builds the foundation of the story. Spawning from ancient folklore about ‘bogiwan’ – Japanese forest boogeyman, the story literally spirals in control with astonishing (if not convoluted) combinations of plot devices. Sawamura seems to take the Chekhov’s gun to the next level. Every element including details is necessary to the plot; a seemingly irrelevant element would soon be unraveled on a different occasion. Those elements include characters. It Comes introduces several characters, including an obsessed parenting blogger, Hideki (Satoshi Tsumabuki) and his dream wife, Kana (Haru Kuroki); a rocker-writer, Nozaki (Junichi Okada); a grungy psychic, Makoto (Nana Komatsu); a popular shaman who is also Makoto’s sister, Kotoko (Takako Matsu); and a folklore professor, Tsuga (Munetaka Aoki), respectively. Those characters are weighed with the same important portion and integral role for the whole narrative. While it might look as if the story’s unfocused, but it is delightful to drown into the midst of mystery-bound narrative mess where you cannot actually determine who the real protagonist is.
Clocking in at 135 minutes, It Comes hasn’t always been an easy watch. The story, albeit controlled, are all over the place and the acts of violence are sometimes unbearable. Those who have followed Nakashima’s works might find it easier to catch up with the narrative style, especially with some familiar faces (including Matsu and Komatsu, who have respectively starred as mains in Confession and Kanako) to root upon. To make the best of It Comes, it is advised to know as little as possible (but, that also means that reading up to this point isn’t actually advisable).
Final verdict: It Comes devices a long list of plot twist mechanisms—including anagnorisis, analepsis, peripeteia, red herring, non-linear narrative, false antagonist, to name a few—simultaneously and enticingly in one grand, long-winded horror that demands full attention.