We gave it a B-
The decision by Showtime in January not to broadcast Imprint, the episode of its Masters of Horror anthology directed by Japanese auteur Takashi Miike initially gave off the distinct smell of publicity ploy. (Indeed, this DVD features a prominently displayed ”Banned” banner.) After all, the cable network had already screened a number of gruesome MoH entries from such horror veterans as John Carpenter and Dario Argento. How much worse could Miike’s episode be? The answer, it transpires, is ”very.” A period whodunit set in an otherworldly Japanese brothel, Imprint is every bit as disturbing as the director’s infamous 2000 film Audition. Torture, aborted fetuses, and bizarre physical aberrations are all depicted in a film whose principal purpose appears to be to test the viewer’s appetite for cinematic transgression. In one of the featurettes, the genre-hopping Miike, who sees himself as an eclectic artist, claims that the success of Audition has led to him being ”misunderstood” as primarily a horror director. It is a misunderstanding the harrowing Imprint will greatly, bloodily reinforce.