Shiki 14 – One Step Below the Human Centipede Guy
Right from the beginning (and from the last episode, really) you could see that Kyouko dying was just what the doctor ordered. (Sorry.) Muroi understandably reacted in horror to what Ozaki has wanted to do for a while now — get one of the Risen and dissect the living hell out of ’em to see what makes the Risen tick. Because of that reaction, Ozaki secrets Kyouko away after her death in the hopes that she will come back to life, and when she does, what follows is perhaps the creepiest horror sequence I’ve seen in anime.
The scene where Ozaki experiments on Kyouko play on two things that really creep me out: A total lack of control (Kyouko can’t do anything about Ozaki cutting her up and whatnot) and an ordinary, even good person committing unspeakable acts (uh, like, everything Ozaki does to Kyouko) . . . with the added gray area of the fight against the Risen combined with Kyouko’s relative innocence in all this.
We’d probably still be creeped out if Ozaki did these experiments to, say, Tatsumi, but we also might not object as strongly because the guy is an asshole who is clearly taking pleasure in the high body count in the village. But Kyouko didn’t really do anything purposefully wrong. She likes tweaking her mother-in-law, but that ain’t evil. And she of course had no way of knowing Tatsumi was a vampire. Kyouko is an innocent victim, and for that she is punished with a cruel fate, the subject of Ozaki’s bloody experiments.
Of course what adds to the fright factor of this sequence is the cold, clinical manner in which Ozaki goes about his experiments. Ozaki despises the Risen so thoroughly that when his own wife even threatens to become one, she is dead to him, both physically and emotionally — he can do this to her because she is beyond saving. She is only a monster and tool which he can use to discover the secret to destroy the other monsters. The obsession and frustration has pushed Ozaki over the edge into a fairly horrible place.
The whole thing filled me with the sort of skin-crawling dread that only the most terrifying pieces horror are capable. It shows that the most terrifying thing of all is not a monster, but rather what the monster inspires in people who ally with it and go against it. What the Risen represent to Ozaki is so terrible that he can cast away any feelings he possesses for his wife and tear her apart. That is true horror.
Is what Ozaki does the right thing to do? To me, that question is a bit less important than the fact that Ozaki felt compelled to go to these lengths in the first place. That he faces a horror so black that “right” and “wrong” have no real meaning anymore — just survival. And it’s probably even beyond simple survival for Ozaki at this point.
One particularly effective touch in that scene is when the tape stops recording midway through. It’s as if the camera itself is so repulsed by what Ozaki is doing that it cannot put his actions to tape. I don’t know how many people would want to watch Ozaki slowly dissect one of the Risen, anyway.
The mad scientist/doctor character is fairly common in horror fiction — Dr. Frankenstein is the classic example, of course. In the movies, you’ve got examples as wide ranging as Dr. Caligari, Dr. Moreau (though he was in the H.G. Wells book first) and that dude from Re-Animator. Ozaki fits among them, but not totally — he’s taking science beyond ethical boundaries, but he’s not really drowning in ego or power or trying to become God or something. He’s just a regular dude . . . which makes it all the creepier to me.