Mother / マザー
At the ripe young age of 77, horror manga auteur Kazuo Umezu, finally makes his directorial debut with Mother, a vaguely autobiographical jaunt into low-budget psych-horror, leavened with a healthy dose of surrealism. The film’s all about mommy issues. One’s not sure whether Umezu’s doing a final lifelong purge of all his Freudian bugaboos or doing a grand send up of all the hoary conventions of a genre best described as psychological farce. No matter, the mom that keeps haunting Umezu’s stand in, kabuki actor Ainosuke Kataoka, is a beautiful ghoul who keeps leading him into a series of clichéd horror movie situations. The talented Kataoka, clad in Umezu’s signature red and white-striped T, lends a sort of downbeat comic timing to the whole affair that keeps Umezu’s wandering directorial hand a bit in place. Give props to Umezu for trying. He’s been a major force in defining the look and direction of manga since he hit the scene in the 60s. He’s relatively new to filmmaking, so give him a little time to develop.
Originally published in EL Magazine, October 2014.