Woman Transformation (2007)
Directed by Toru Kamei
Woman Transformation is a film about women literally going through transformations (hence the title), but it’s about as horrific as a tale of a teenager going through puberty. That’s a good enough setup for the movie that, despite the premise of something that should be disturbing, only manages to provide yawns instead of shocks.
The first story is about a very unhappy model (why she’s unhappy isn’t something that’s really ever discussed) who is suffering from severe neck pains and strange hallucinations. She goes in for an X-ray, and the doctors discover that instead of human bones in her neck she seems to have snake bones. Odd.
She wakes up one night with her head on the floor and her body in bed and realizes that something is very, very wrong. She’s kept at the hospital for tests where she learns that her neck grows at night, sometimes on its own and sometimes with her help. For some reason this makes her even more depressed, even though it’s pretty clear that she can control it more often than not, and eventually she breaks out of the hospital after her former roommate comes by to gawk at her, only for tragedy to strike when she tries to help another transformation victim.
Said victim is the subject of the second story of transformation, about a girl who loves her nails more than seemingly anything else in the world. She’s disturbed at first when she realizes they have grown 3cm over night (they normally grow about 0.1mm) but finds a way to enjoy having longer and longer nails. Until, of course, they become so long that she can’t use her hands at all and they become a danger to others.
Though somehow she always manages to change clothes without a problem, we see her going through the trials of eating, working and... well, that’s actually about it. Cutting her nails causes a lot of pain and bleeding, so she hopes to sever them completely by letting a train run over them, which is when the first girl shows up and saves her.
So far it sounds like it might be interesting, right? No, not at all. You can tell the film was done very cheaply, even for Japanese standards, with the same locations used repeatedly; and the pacing is just slow, slow, slow. The scenes of the girls learning about their transformations are about the only horrific thing that goes on, but it’s usually done with a more comedic slant than anything else. Even then it’s only minor laughs at best.
So as we leave the long-nailed girl standing in the rain, covered in blood, we move on to the last story, which is actually of the girl who shared the same hospital room with the long-necked girl. She’s just a bad person all around, but her transformation is so very slow and nondescript you almost wonder if it’s happening at all most of the time. Essentially all the nasty, horrible things she’s supposedly done (we really only see one of them, which is admittedly pretty fucked up) begin to physically manifest themselves; and by the end she’s finally undergone a very creepy transformation. I’ll leave the finale to those who are curious to see it still, but I know I sure wasn’t satisfied.
Woman Transformation is supposed to be a story the parallels physical deformity with personal loneliness. That being said, the biggest problem I had with it was it never seemed to have a point. There is not redemption for the bad characters, at least nothing satisfying; there are no full monstrous transformations that go on that might satisfy the gorehounds; and none of the characters are three-dimensional enough to evoke sympathy from the viewer.
For me it just fell flat on all the promises (whether actually made or implied) I had gone in expecting to be fulfilled and is really only worth seeking out to see lonely girls suffer through physical manifestations of their solitude, which is about as exciting to watch as you might think.
2 out of 5
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