Aragne: Sign of Vermillion (2018) [Fantasia 2018]

Saku Sakomoto’s “Aragne” is a real stab at anime horror that embraces its nonsensical story, and never actually delivers a narrative at any point during its run time. “Aragne” is thankfully a merciful hour long film, but one that’s a disorienting, and incoherent experience. And not in the artistic way. More in the realm that Sakomoto seems to have half assed a lot of the film and kind of took it in to the realm where he makes it looks intentional the whole way through.

University student Rin just moved to the big city in hopes of attending classes and indulging in the metropolis. But she’s stunned to find out that the city is indeed a dank hellhole filled with misery, while her building is a run down complex where various shut ins and mental patients roam the halls. Soon Rin is haunted by dreams and hallucinations involving bugs and a grinning man on the street, and begins to discover a source behind the imagery. She learns about a horrible disease that occurred forty years earlier, and with her research becoming deeper, the hallucinations become ever more harrowing.

I imagine “Aragne” might be a polarizing movie down the line, with some fans proclaiming its inherent surrealism, while others will be asking about important elements like… oh… narrative, interesting characters, and a fucking point. I wanted to love “Aragne” mainly because when Sakomoto delivers some keen moments, the movie is striking visually. Some scenes are mesmerizing. But then he delves in to experimental where a slew of establishing scenes are merely storyboards. One scene even finds our protagonist Rin on a train where all the riders have no faces.  I was convinced for a while that I’d received an unfinished work print to review, but upon further research, it’s all wholly intentional.

I’d commend Sakamoto for the experiment, but it detracts from the experience of the film, and is downright distracting most of the time. “Aragne” is just such a grim and underwhelming bit of horror fiction that dabbles in crime thriller, murder mystery, and supernatural horror, none of which click in to one another to amount to an entertaining or riveting experience. From giant bugs, to a rotting killer, and a crawling beast, “Aragne” has some potential, but is ultimately an abysmal film and complete waste of time.

Fantasia 2018 runs from July 12th to August 2nd, 2018.