(When it rains, he will come.)
Based on the 2013 best-selling manga series Museum: The Serial Killer is Laughing in the Rain, this crime-thriller/horror film tells the story of a murderer (Satoshi Tsumabuki) who only appears on rainy days wearing a mysterious frog mask. Detective Hisashi Sawamura (Shun Oguri) works to uncover the perpetrator behind the gruesome murders and unknowingly becomes the Frogman’s next prey.
<POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD>
The film opens bleakly, with Detective Sawamura waking up in an empty apartment littered with trash and empty instant ramen cups, as we find out that his wife (Machiko Ono) has left him because of his lack of care, taking with her their 5-year-old son. He is called to the scene of the first murder within minutes of the opening — A young lady has been found tied-up and reduced to bloody shreds after being attacked by voracious dogs.
Sawamura is the cool professional, following his police instincts and searching for clues while rookie cop Nishino (Shuhei Nomura) throws up in the background. Later in the day, they find out that the killer left behind a card with the words ドッグフードの刑, Dog Food Punishment.
The killer goes after his next victim by boldly breaking into his apartment. Tying him on a chair out in the rain, the killer reads out his sin, declares him guilty and dishes out punishment in the form of some grizzly flesh extraction involving a saw. The next card left behind states 母の痛みを知りましょうの刑, Know Your Mother’s Pain Punishment.
The two grim deaths set the tone for most of the movie, where we see Tokyo bathed in rain and shadows as Sawamura finds personal reason to pursue the murderer despite being pulled from the case. Director Keishi Ōtomo (who brought us the brilliant Rurouni Kenshin live action movies) draws us into a stylishly and urgently shot car chase before the pace drops to a deceptive lull; the calm before the storm gets shot down quickly when the Frogman amps up his antics targeting Sawamura.
Famed cinematographer Hideo Yamamoto (the man behind Terra Formars and The Grudge) joins Ōtomo to create gritty, nail-biting scenes. The clever use of silence filled with nothing but Sawamura’s ragged breathing also serves to build an appropriate amount of suspense and tension. The climax, however, proved to be a slight disappointment.
Shun Oguri delivers a convincing performance as both enraged cop and tortured father/husband, and his pain and desperation can be seen and felt clearly. Satoshi Tsumabuki, unrecognizable here in his grotesque get-up, is admirable in his portrayal of the unhinged Frogman — he plays equal parts deranged killer and damaged human almost to a fault.
Fans of the original manga will be happy to note that the movie sticks close to its roots, while those new to the story should brace themselves for a relatively horrifying thrill ride. Be sure to catch MUSEUM in cinemas soon!
*MUSEUM is now showing at selected Cathay Cineplexes, Golden Village, Shaw, WE Cinemas and Filmgarde theaters across Singapore.
**Check out some of MUSEUM’s behind-the-scenes stills on their official Instagram page!
We rate this 4 out of 5 WAs