Rin takes medication for mental health issues. But maybe her morbid hallucinations aren’t just in her mind, since strange and gruesome deaths seem to occur wherever she goes. This may or may not be related to the mysterious “Tilting Disease” – an unsolved medical case from 1977. Aragne: Sign of Vermillion (directed, written, and animated by Saku Sakamoto) is a psychological thriller that takes a novel approach to its artistic staging. Its detailed visuals are intercut with unfinished pencil sketches and outline drawings over color background cels at seemingly random moments.

Tension and mystery is felt throughout, and the answer to the mysterious deaths is not what Rin expects. There is something much more sinister afoot, alongside a side-story from Rin’s childhood. Memories from the past offer clues about her mental state. But whereas the entire film structure is tight and loops all the plot holes, this all unravels in the final 10 minutes of the film. These ‘clues’ instead confuse matters, making the finale feel rushed. The final shot almost feels like a sequel might be intended to respond to the rather anti-climactic “twist”. Either that, or it was shoddily slapped on at the last minute. However, the rather unfortunate ending does not take away from the rest of the film. The aesthetics, the blurred lines of reality versus hallucinations, the grotesque creatures, and the pretty Super Dollfie-like appearance of the protagonist definitely deserve attention. If one can overlook the last 5 minutes, Aragne is something fresh for the horror anime genre!

Fantasia Screening – Sunday, July 15th 2:40 PM – Hall Theatre

Official Fantasia Website