Miyako is an embalmer who likes to attend the scene of the
death of each of her customers. When the head of her latest
client, a young male who committed suicide, is stolen after
she has embalmed the body she is soon dragged into a mysterious
world where nothing is what it seems.
significance of the subject matter in EM Embalming
(or Enbamingu to give it it's original title), only
really takes shape when you know that embalming is not an
activity that is carried out much in Japan. The movie opens
up with facts about how this way of preserving the remains
of loved ones was originally introduced to America. It also
goes into detail about how many people are embalmed in the
transpires that Miyako has been fascinated by embalming since
she attended her mother's funeral. Her mother had died whilst
abroad and was shipped back to her country already embalmed
and Miyako was surprised at how 'alive' she looked. This fascination
eventually turned into a career.
reasons that are never explained, Miyako has a working relationship
with a detective. When there is a death he calls her in, as
she likes to see the body in the position it is discovered.
It seemed such an odd way to do her work, and it would have
been interesting if this has been delved into a little deeper.
Why does she attend the scene of the crime in the opening
shot? What can she possibly hope to garner from the scene
that will help her do her job more efficiently?
moves along smoothly until the head of the body is stolen
and a phone call for Miyako warns her not to proceed with
her "evil" job - it seems that someone does not
approve of embalming. Then, everything races out of control
and the director seems to have a problem keeping hold of the
of the scenes are comical without really meaning to be. When,
what appears to be, the corpse of a young man is having its
insides removed for black market organ transplantation, the
organs look unreal and quite comical. This is then made all
the more bizarre by the discovery that the boy is not dead
(despite being nicely sliced open and having hardly any organs
left). I was unsure as to whether director Shinji Aoyama was
spoofing popular Japanese horror movies of the time like Ring
(EM Embalming was released in 1999), or whether he
was genuinely trying to shock.
far from a bad movie and is refreshingly original when compared
to the other horror movies on the market. And there are plenty
of twists to keep you guessing until the end. It's just that
this could have been so much more engaging if the director
had lightened it up a tad.
The result is very much like an embalmer's work, take a messy
scenario and try and dress it up as something with substance.
But, pick away at the surface and the reality soon shows itself.
include a 20 minute interview with the director; additional
audio commentary Jasper Sharp, co-author of The Midnight
Eye Guide to New Japanese Film; and a collection of biographies
for six of the cast and crew.
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Widescreen - Region 1 Edition
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