I don't like babies. It sounds like a harsh thing to say but they really do creep me out. Babies, human dolls, clowns, sharks and moths if you must know. Not the little thick ones that fly into light bulbs, I’m talking about the giant ugly variety that leave a pussy mess on the ceiling if you hit them hard enough. If a horror film was to contain all of these things (Mothra vs. The Mutant Baby Clown Shark anyone?), I would probably never come out of hiding. Fortunately for me, clowns, sharks and demonic moths are nowhere to be seen in Yudai Yamaguchi’s Tamami: The Baby’s Curse.
Yoko is a fifteen-year-old girl who has just learned that despite growing up as an orphan, her parents are alive and want her to come home. However, the happy reunion turns into a terrifying nightmare as she starts to settle in at the creepy house. All the townsfolk insist it’s haunted for a start, which is rarely a good sign in the horror genre. Her mother is clearly insane, spending the duration of the movie singing lullabies to a stuffed toy. The housekeeper is positively sinister, and her dad is oblivious to everything, including the crazy mutant killer baby living in the attic.
Poor Yoko is slow to make sense of it all, but before you can say fifteen-year-old baby, she finds herself terrorised by the twin sister she never knew she had. You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. Any film that pitches a fifteen-year-old girl against a fifteen-year-old baby is asking for trouble, and anybody going into this film without the requisite state of mind is asking for trouble. Let’s make one thing clear, this is not a film to be taken seriously, but for almost an hour Yudai Yamaguchi (Battlefield Baseball) defies the odds.
It’s an atmospheric opening complete with haunting score. Yamaguchi does well to keep his disturbing creation hidden for much of the first half, creating tension from behind broken glass and within darkened corridors. For over an hour this is Grimm viewing, fairytale fantasy mixed with gothic horror. Then Tamami chased Yoko down a twisting corridor and I almost wet myself. Not that I was disappointed by the sudden change in focus, because the final act serves up the kind of unadulterated mayhem I was expecting all along; lots of blood, gory death scenes and killer baby action.
Tamami herself is a wonderful creation, a sinister blend of Chucky from Childs Play and Sloth from The Goonies. The effects team do a good job, even if some of the set pieces end in laughter rather than genuine fear. What I wasn’t expecting however was the ending, and dare I say it, the final moments are actually quite touching. You all ready know if this is your kind of movie, but let me say it again in case you thought your ears were deceived you first time round. This is a film about a giant killer baby. Make of that what you will.
The acting is unspectacular, and the characters are either stupid or insane, but the scales are tipped in Tamami's favour by solid direction and more blood than a vampire buffet. Neat touches and fairytale trimmings add to the enjoyment and fans of quirky Japanese horror fare should find plenty to enjoy. Tamami: The Baby’s Curse was a pleasant surprise for me, and who knows, maybe my girlfriend will watch it with me next time. At least that way we'll stick with cats. AW