Even the cleanest and most pristine hospitals can be pretty darn scary sometimes. So just imagine you're a patient at the dank, dark, grungy & grimy hospital found in Masayuki Ochiai's Infection. This is a place where doctors turn patients away, where nurses neglect and unwittingly misdiagnose, and where administrators are infinitely more worried about the "bottom line" than in the actual practice of medicine. Added to that is the fact that the hosptial is entirely run-down, bleak, and perpetually dripping with puddles of god-knows-what ... and you've got a pretty nasty setting for a horror movie.
Infection (a.k.a. Kansen) is a dark and consistently unpleasant horror flick from Japan, and it's one of those stories that takes place all in one night. Three doctors, three nurses, and only a small handful of patients are roaming the hospital halls. An absent-minded blunder leads to the death of a patient, and the hospital staff members decide to cover up their horrible mistake ... by placing the fresh corpse next to a heater, thereby expediting decay and erasing all traces of their unthinking blunder.
Just as the body starts oozing away, in comes a new and entirely freaky patient. We never do get to see what this newcomer looks like; only that he's got some sort of flesh-melting virus that horrifies everyone. And just like that: all hell slowly begins to break loose. The stress of a horrifically pestilant patient and the guilt of their accidental murder causes the doctors and nurses to spend a night full of shrieks, scalpels, boiling water, melting flesh, and the sort of "WTF?" dream sequences that seem to occur only in Asian horror movies.
But Infection works, for the most part, and at times it works amazingly well. If the movie devolves into outright confusion during its gradually more abstract third act, the horror hounds can at least take solace in the fact that the first 60-some minutes of Infection are swollen with all sorts of nasty nuggets.
The setting itself is more than a little unnerving. Ochiai depicts the hollow hallways of his hospital in exceedingly ominous ways; the rooms are sparse; the characters are abrasive; and the overall mood of Infection is that of a fairly freaky nightmare. Gore gurus will clap their paws contentedly at several of Infection's icky displays -- from the goopy flesh-meltings to a few crazy killings, Infection delivers the goods with a reliable tenacity.
But the tone of the movie is what sets Infection apart; this is not a stalk-and-slash hospital horror a la Visiting Hours or Halloween 2, but Infection finds its feet by presenting some truly unsettling material in a place that we'd normally find freshly-scrubbed walls and sterile surroundings. There are a few "boo!" moments to keep the jolts moving along, but Infection is more interested in getting under your skin than provoking you to jump out of it.
Video: The film is presented in a rather handsome Widescreen anamorphic transfer, which allows you to see the gooey greenness of the rotting flesh in perfect clarity.
Audio: Dolby Digital Japanese 5.1 or 2.0, with the requisite subtitles offered in English and Spanish.
Extras: A pair of trailers for Premonition and Ju-On: The Grudge.
First release in a line of "J-Horror" titles from Lions Gate Home Entertainment, Infection is precisely what you're looking for if you're tired of watching The Ring, The Eye, and The Grudge over and over. In many ways, Infection is even better than many of its Japanahorror brethren ... mainly because it doesn't rely on the same old conventions that the others do.
Plus it's just plain ol' creepy.