‘Infection’ is a deliciously repulsive mess


Title: “Infection”

Director: Masayuki Ochiai

Release date: Oct. 2, 2004

Genre: J-Horror

Country: Japan

Rating: 3 out of 5

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If David Lynch created “All My Children,” it would probably look a lot like “Infection.” That’s both good and bad. Soap operas are a convoluted tangle of relationships and betrayal all linked by a loose narrative thread. And when those tangles come undone — man, is it fun to watch the whole web fall apart.

The movie hits the ground running. An overworked doctor accidentally kills his patient just as another patient with a mysterious infection melts into a pile of luminescent slime in the waiting room. Dr. Akiba (Koichi Sato, “Unforgiven”) and four nurses decide to cover up their malpractice. Soon after, everyone in the hospital begins to fall ill with a seemingly unstoppable virus.

If that summary reads like a mess, it’s because the plot is a mess. The script is lacking in almost every department. Dialogue is hackneyed and often too insane for its own good. Once the film reaches a fever pitch, characters become nearly indecipherable in their logorrhea.

What really keeps “Infection” moving is that atmosphere. The hospital itself ages as the film goes on. Walls stain, lights burn out, the workers decay on their feet and the result is sickening. If there’s any J-Horror flick that would incite a shower after watching, “Infection” is a worthy candidate.

But atmosphere only goes so far. There’s just not enough here to set it apart from other, much better horror movies. Pallid green lighting and the stomach-turning red tones of the basement sequences are done right and well, but it’s clear that director Ochiai didn’t focus on much else.

This isn’t the type of movie that jumps out from closets or around the corner. It will creep behind the viewer, leaving a slug trail in its wake, and just before it pounces, the credits roll. The climaxes recall the body horror of David Cronenberg’s “The Brood,” but they just aren’t original enough to stand out.

For a disgustingly good time, “Infection” is a movie to check out. But viewers should keep their expectations realistic, because beyond the soap opera insanity of the dialogue and the vomit-inducing slimes and sludges, the movie doesn’t have a lot to offer.