Follow TV Tropes


Film / Cure

Go To
"Now tell me about yourself."

"Madness. Terror. Murder."

Cure is a 1997 Japanese horror film written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

A series of brutal murders are happening all over the Tokyo area. All are committed by different, unrelated people, but there are two connections: All the victims have an x-shaped wound on their throats, and none of the killers can remember committing the crime. A detective investigating the case comes across a mysterious amnesiac who seems to be near every crime...

This film contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Ending: The film ends with Takabe seemingly inciting a waitress to commit murder, suggesting that he has been hypnotized by Mamiya (and/or the strange recording) into continuing his work. However, it is unclear whether this is in fact the case.
    • Word of God confirms that the final scene was originally going to be the waitress stabbing someone to death.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: If the tape Takebe watches is anything to go by, the tradition of occultic mesmerism in Japan stretches back to the 19th century. Mamiya is the latest in a line of hypnotists to carry on "the ceremony," as Sakuma describes it. It's Downplayed in that he's also the only practitioner of the technique in the present day, and it's not shown if there've been other mesmerists than him and the unnamed man in the video.
  • Arch-Enemy: Takabe has Mamiya, who spends the whole film psychologically tormenting him, and eventually drives him insane.
  • Big Bad: Kunihiko Mamiya is responsible for all the murders.
  • Brainwashed: Mamiya exposes other people to repetitive sounds or the light of his lighter to hypnotize them, implanting the suggestion to commit murder against whoever they seem to hate the most.
  • Brown Note: The strange recording on the phonograph cylinder inside the abandoned building seems to be hypnotic instructions that convince Takabe to become the next hypnotist.
  • Calling Card: Each victim has an "X" carved into their bodies.
  • Defective Detective: Takabe is emotionally repressed and struggles to care for his wife, whose mental health is slowly deteriorating. This may have left him susceptible to Mamiya's manipulations.
  • Downer Ending: Mamiya manages to completely break Takabe. This leads to the former's death, but the latter takes up his crimes and even kills his own wife.
  • Driven to Suicide: Sakuma becomes terrorized by hallucinations of being cornered by Mamiya, starts putting Xs on his walls, and eventually kills himself in his apartment.
  • Drone of Dread: Much of the soundtrack consists of eerie droning electronica.
  • Faking Amnesia: Mamiya seems to exhibit short-term memory loss, and acts constantly confused. It's all a lie to disguise his sociopathy.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The waitress picks up a knife just a couple seconds before the credits roll.
  • The Immune: Takabe is immune to Mamiya's hypnosis, which is why Mamiya finds him so fascinating. In the end, however, he does end up submitting (possibly with the help of the strange recording) and decides to take up his work.
  • Indirect Serial Killer: Kunihiko Mamiya is a master hypnotist who travels the land, brainwashing random people into either committing murder against people they harbor resentment towards, or simply killing themselves. At the end, he even succeeds in transforming Detective Takabe into his successor, who also becomes a serial killing hypnotist.
  • Lean and Mean: Mamiya is a thin, willowy man dressed in baggy clothes. The fact that he's not physically imposing adds to his menace, in a way.
  • The Load: Takabe admits he views Fumie as this, and resents having to take care of her for her entire life even while fearing her death. Eventually he commits her to a mental hospital. After killing Mamiya and listening to the phonograph, Takabe murders his wife offscreen and is visibly happier as he eats in the restaurant.
  • Loss of Identity: Mamiya claims to have amnesia, which Takabe suspects is a lie. The reality is more complicated. As Mamiya's obsession with mesmerism grew, it took over his life and supplanted his old identity. He can remember the person he once was, but he doesn't care about that anymore. As he himself says at one point:
    "All the things that used to be inside of me, now they're outside... But the inside of me is empty."
  • The Man Behind the Man: Mamiya presumably "caught" the power of hypnosis from a century-old video at his university that shows an unseen hypnotist making an "X" over a patient, who later went on to kill her son in the exact manner the modern-day victims are killed. Alternatively, it is also implied that Mamiya and later Takabe might just be the latest in a succession of Serial Killer hypnotists that's been going on for possibly a century.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's said that Mamiya learned hypnosis during his studies as a psychology student. Yet the pull he has over people (as well as his ability to get a read on their inner thoughts within minutes of meeting them) almost goes beyond anything that can be explained scientifically, and seems like sorcery at times.
    • Mamiya somehow transfers his powers to Takabe with the aid of a strange wax cylinder recording (which may or may not feature the voice of the hypnotist seen in the VHS tape). The ritualistic nature of the killings, as well as Sakuma describing Mamiya's murders as a "propagation of the ceremony" seen in said tape, could point to something supernatural being at work.
  • More than Mind Control: It's claimed that hypnosis can't make you do anything you don't already want to do, implying that Mamiya's powers (and the dormant hypnosis cult in general) are most effective when dealing with people who are dealing with repressed emotions, such as the policeman killing a colleague because he's resentful he did not get promoted.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Mamiya is (seemingly) in some sort of fugue state, as he's wandering around Tokyo in a daze and can't remember who he is when asked. It's a calculated ruse to wear down people's defenses so they'll be more suggestible to hypnosis.
  • One-Word Title
  • The Ophelia: Fumie is mentally unstable, but very beautiful and waiflike.
  • Police Brutality: Officers repeatedly have to be pulled off of suspects they're abusing. As this is 90s Japan, it's to be expected.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Mamiya isn't a practicing psychologist, but he was a student, and currently uses his knowledge to hypnotize others into becoming murderers.
  • Shout-Out: The first scene features Takabe's wife reading "Bluebeard."
  • Slashed Throat: One of the only things tying the murders together is the "X" slashed across the throats of the victims. Wrapped around a showerhead in Mamiya's home is a dead monkey with an "X" carved into its neck, presumably Mamiya's own victim when he himself was hypnotized sometime before the film begins.
  • The Sociopath: Kunihiko Mamiya, an amnesiac Serial Killer who hypnotizes people into committing the most brutal of atrocities, and loves to play mind games with the detective pursuing him.
  • Straw Misogynist: Mamiya doesn't exactly have healthy views about women.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Mamiya repays a man who shows him some hospitality by making him kill his wife.
  • Unseen Evil: The hypnotist from the 1898 video is never shown. Sakuba explains that he had likely protected his identity for legal and cultural reasons, but it's also creepy to consider that the events of the film were started by someone we never even see.