CAPSULE: ID (2005)

Weirdest!

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Kimihiko Hasegawa, Kei Fujiwara

PLOT: A man awakens in a woods and wanders into an urban pig farm where he observes examples of human cruelty and perversion.

Still from Id (2005)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: The confusing presentation and slapstick black comedy undercuts Id‘s serious spiritual themes. Id goes totally nutso at the end, even by its own loose standards of sanity, and the movie doesn’t hang together even by the forgiving parameters of its own weirdness.

COMMENTS: Id‘s confusing, fractured storyline may take more than one viewing to work out (and you’ll probably never be 100% satisfied). On the other hand, the movie seems to have a clear thematic purpose, though it’s developed in a sloppy fashion. The movie’s theme is stated up front and seems simple and noble: “Amida Buddha’s sacred vow is that all be granted salvation… not only the good and wise but even those most depraved by sin and lust will be shown compassion.” There is a complication, however; to take advantage of Amida Buddha’s offer, you must invoke his name. Beasts, being dumb and mute, can’t do this; and neither can our protagonist, a nameless and (initially) mute man we meet see waking up in a forest, listening to dueling voiceovers. This man grabs a harmonica and wanders onto a nearby urban pig farm where he observes absurd examples of “most depraved sin and lust.”

So far, so good; it seems like a clean enough setup for a story of sin and salvation, a meditation on the thin line between the human and the bestial. Of course, things get far more confused than that. Soon enough we are introduced to another, similarly lost, character, a raggedy detective searching for the “master of murder” who may be responsible for local serial killings. The pig farm and its nearby environs supply plenty of subplots, including three slapstick farmhands who jerk about the farm like Keystone Kops, a bullied nine-year-old boy (played by an adult), and a cult proselytizer who miraculously survived a family massacre. The already odd vignettes are further peppered with hallucinations, including some very crude stop-motion animation and shots of a papier-mache pig’s head spouting blood. Somehow, by the end we descend into a hellish slaughterhouse hung with bloody plastic sheeting for a long and gory confrontation with a transformed “humanhog.” And what are we to make of the frequent references to the “id well,” an idea seemingly taken from Freudian psychology that has only a strained connection to the film’s Buddhist ideology?

The idea that “those most depraved by sin and lust will be shown compassion” provides an excuse to show graphic examples of sin and lust, which test our capacity for compassion to its fullest. Among other immoral sights, we get an entire chapter devoted to Peeping Toms (who pull on metallic springs in the place of genitals) and a “comic” transvestite rape. The absurdist elements of the salacious scenes seem to work against the movie’s main theme, however; if Amida Buddha forgives the worst human transgressions, then why the need to make them funny? If he would forgive real Peeping Toms, why does Id feel compelled to make their crimes look silly? It’s symptomatic of the movie’s unsure tone. Id won’t commit to being a black comedy, a serious psycho-spiritual rumination, or a surreal nightmare, but keeps changing its strategy every few minutes, hoping something will stick. It’s a shame, because there seems to be the seed of a promising idea buried somewhere in this film, if only the director could decide how to cultivate it.

Writer/director Kei Fujiwara collaborated with on 1989’s Certified Weird classic Tetsuo: The Iron Man, where she played the female lead as well as providing the costume design and assisting in the camerawork. Id is her second feature in a proposed trilogy; the first, Organ, appeared in 1996, so the third installment is due about now, if it’s ever going to be made.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“A lot of viewers might not even finish it, let alone desire a second (or third) serving of the outrageously weird, spicy dish.”–Dejan Ognjanovic, Temple of Ghoul (DVD)

(This movie was nominated for review by “Radu.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)

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