This movie is, well, like somewhat of a bad acid trip. Though I don’t know personally, I can only imagine it might bear similarity to this film. We have the jittery camera action, which at some points can nearly give you motion sickness. It is almost all filmed in black and white. There is virtually no dialogue, with the exception of a narrator, a nurse verbally expressing her thoughts offscreen, and an interview with a witness scattered intermittently throughout. And how many times can we watch snow falling?! In fact, much of this film is spent watching snow falling, blood oozing, records spinning, or differing organisms scurrying around under a microscope lens. The music is ridiculous and almost comical at times, and some of it seemed to come straight out of a bad techno party. The acting is at its worst terrible and at its best mediocre. Did I mention it is four and a half hours long?
That said, I would be remiss not to mention that some of these scenes in the film are rather gruesome (cockroach, enough said), but most are clearly, obviously, painstakingly FAKE. It is also necessary to mention that these reenactments, in pseudo-documentary format (gritty, shaking camera and all), are based on true events that occurred at Japanese Unit 731 from the 1930s through to about 1945. They conducted inhumane, horrific experiments on the prisoners that have gone down in history as some of the worst atrocities man can inflict on man, including biological and chemical warfare. Some of the scenes portrayed are seemingly medically inaccurate and are no doubt used for shock value, to enhance the already horrendous nature of what actually occurred. One fictional aspect was that two of those involved in these diabolical “experiments” felt a modicum of sympathy for these unfortunate souls, but of course, they were “only following orders” (don’t get me started on that bullshit). I feel that the level of gore mixed with the awful special effects did somewhat of a disservice to those victims who truly deserve respect and remembrance for the brutality they endured. I am highly ambivalent about this film, leaning somewhere between pure genius and utter stupidity and disrespect. The cheesy effects went so far past believable that I don’t know how any gullible person could think this is actually real. The stories are based in fact, the movie’s images themselves are not. Come to think of it, the worse the effects got, and how far beyond they went actually detracted from the fact that we are supposed to be feeling sorry for these victims. We do in real life, of course, but in this long-winded portrayal, you are almost sitting there, sarcastically saying, “Oh, come on…geez….ahh, more snow, great..”.
Several of the scenes are utterly implausible, and like I said, so far beyond fake it is almost amusing. I do believe some of the archival footage and a few photo stills may be real, but in other instances, it’s like watching something out of a haunted house. However, it also finds some way to grab your attention in certain parts, and makes you really depressed. These are people. People doing these things to other people. How can we wrap our brains around this madness? It more serves as a gross-out movie more than one that could provoke any real emotion, at least for the majority of it. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this movie, as I feel it does virtually little to nothing to promote the cause of these tragic victims, their pain, and their place in history, and I almost found it a little insulting. It is slightly uncomfortable in the more quiet sequences, but once the violence kicks in, you remember it’s all fake. We need to remember the victims of wartime atrocities, not exploit them. But if you want to give it a go, be my guest! You might fall asleep for the first hour or so, and its a long ride, so it’d be best to put on a pot of coffee.