Parasite Eve (1997)

Rating: D+

Dir: Masayuki Ochiai
Star: Hiroshi Mikami, Riona Hazuki, Tomoko Nakajima, Ayako Omura

If you’re looking for lots of running and shooting, you’re in for a shock. This film isn’t based, as you might expect, on the successful video game, but the novel which is actually the common ancestor to both. The basic plot is kept – and is certainly intriguing, with the concept that humanity has been playing host to a parasitic lifeform in the mitochondria of our cells for a billion years, just awaiting its moment to flower. [Not as bizarre as it seems; there’s evidence mitochondria are once-independent entities absorbed by our cells] The problems here are all in the implementation, proving that there can be such a thing as too much atmosphere.

Dr. Nagashima (Mikami) plays a researcher who loses his wife (Hazuki) in a car accident, but cultures her cells to keep her “alive”, thereby triggering the parasites into action. This middle part, in which the mitochondria make their move, in the shape of the dead wife, is actually excellent, mixing idea and execution effectively. But after half an hour of scientific lectures, creeping around badly-lit medical facilities and peering into microscopes, any activity would likely seem very welcome. At the end, it falls apart again, with all the pomposity of Lifeforce, and precious little of that classic’s delicious excess. Nice to see that flawed movies related to computer-games are not purely a western concept.