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The Sylvian Experiments

No further research necessary; they failed.

Rod Lott November 2nd, 2011

Even masters have their off days. Hiroshi Takahashi, the celebrated screenwriter of Japanese modern horror classics “Don’t Look Up” and “Ringu” (aka “The Ring”), makes a rare outing as director, too, with “Sylvian Experiments,” retitled for American consumption from its original “Kyôfu.” (Gesundheit.)


The U.S. moniker refers to the film’s plot point of the “Sylvian fissure” of the human brain: Apply electricity to it, and the subject hallucinates astral projections and out-of-body experiences. This, posits mad-scientist female Dr. Hattori (Nagisa Katahira), opens up a whole realm of spiritual evolution. To study her theories, she has a team member trick several suicidal youngsters in taking that leap with him, then knocking them unconscious for easy kidnapping.

The story — as much as viewers can follow — moves to dream access à la “Dreamscape” or “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors,” and ghosts appearing like bodies of UHF static. None of it is the least bit scary, because none of it makes sense. Perhaps internal logic existed in the picture for its Japanese audiences and simply was lost due to poor  translation, but I doubt it. With as much jumping around in time and place as the film does, it’s a real mess — a great-looking mess, but a mess nonetheless.

Despite its encouraging pedigree, intriguing title, realistic-looking brain sawin’ and early scenes of promise and menace, these “Experiments” simply fail. —Rod Lott

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