Saturday, July 20, 2019

Fantasia ’19: It Comes

Hereditary’s Ari Aster cannot hold a candle to Tetsuya Nakashima when it comes to portraying extreme human emotions. Technically, this is his first outright horror movie, but aesthetically, it is not so far distant from films like Confessions and Memories of Matsuko. The only thing more intense then the family dysfunction in his latest work is the supernatural horror looming over Nakashima’s It Comes, which had its Canadian premiere at the 2019 Fantasia International Film Festival.

Newlyweds Hideki and Kana Tahara look like a picture-book couple, but there was a strange incident from his childhood that continues to haunt his dreams and subconscious. There is a sinister force out there that still “calls out” to him. The birth of his daughter Chisa was a happy event for the couple and their friends, but it might provide an opening for the ominous supernatural power to get its hooks into the nuclear family.

When wild things start happening around him, Tahara reaches out to Kazuhiro Nozaki, an expert on the occult, and his girlfriend, Makoto Higa, a self-taught psychic. However, the uncanny entity is too powerful for her to handle. Much to her chagrin, the Tahara family will need the help of Higa’s arrogant older sister Kotoko, a professional exorcist highly trained in the shamanistic arts. Then you-know-what happens—a lot of it.

It Comes is a heck of a wild ride. It starts on a micro level, but Nakashima quickly takes it macro, staging bigger and more-over-the-top horror movie exorcisms than you have ever seen before. There are also multiple shocking surprises in store for viewers. In fact, we start out assuming it is about one set of characters, but it really turns out to be about an entirely different group of folks. It Comes morphs into a very different film than what you expect, but that makes it genuinely surprising, almost (but not quite) like seeing Hitchcock’s Psycho again for the first time.

Takako Matsu, who rocked Nakashima’s Confessions, commands the screen as Kotoko Higa, portraying a psychic exorcist distinctive enough to rival Lin Shaye in the Insidious franchise. Jun’ichi Okada really sells the film’s extreme madness, convincingly playing Nozaki as the character is dragged sideways through the proverbial wringer. Nana Komatsu and Haru Kuroki, as Makoto and Kana, respectively, also convincingly shift gears multiple times over, completely keeping viewers off balance.

This is a scary film and an insane spectacle. It is also Nakashima’s best film since Confessions, representing a rebound after the comparatively disappointing World of Kanako. Enthusiastically recommended for fans of films like Hereditary, Insidious, and The Conjuring, It Comes premiered in Canada during this year’s Fantasia.