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The horror of Cure lurks in the background

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Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: As part of the A.V. Club’s 10 Days Of Horror, we recommend the movies that frighten us the most.

Cure (1997)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s breakthrough, Cure (1997), established its director as the most original horror stylist since John Carpenter. Superbly paced, the movie follows a detective (Kōji Yakusho, in the first of many collaborations with Kurosawa) as he investigates a series of senseless murders. Seemingly unrelated at first, the crimes—a prostitute bludgeoned to death by a client, a beat cop shot in the back of the head by a colleague, a patient murdered by a nurse—eventually point to a sinister presence lurking somewhere in the background.


Style-wise, Kurosawa ditches familiar horror-movie tropes—shock cuts, crescendoing music—in favor of elliptic editing, ambiguous action, and long, widely framed takes. In a move that would become Kurosawa’s trademark, the most terrifying stuff is usually in the background of the shot. Eventually, the viewer begins to dread empty visual space—an effect that both mirrors the movie’s sense of pervasive and unpredictable evil, and fits its themes of transference and induction. Without ever quite knowing what’s going on, the viewer becomes a character. Few movies are so purely scary.

Availability: Cure is available on DVD and can be obtained through Netflix.