If you were hoping to catch a film embracing all the goth clichés, you'd better look elsewhere. Of course Takahashi's Goth carries the main characteristics of its titular world, but there is way more to the film than simple fan fodder. As it turns out, Goth is a smart, moody and pretty unique crime drama, positioned far away from the night-loving, vampire-craving horror cinema you might have expected based on the title.
After a successful run as novel and manga, Goth just had to be made into a feature film. That's what commercial sense is all about. The original is an anthology work grouping six short stories, the film mixes two of them together and scatters small references to the other four throughout. An approach that was criticized by fans of the first hour, but for someone who hasn't read the source material it proves no hurdle at all. A true book adaptations cliche right there.
What surprised me most is that people on the web seem to refer to Goth as a horror film and also review/rank it as such. There are a few graphic scenes, but there is not much true or typical horror to be found in this film. Instead, the story focuses on a couple of youngsters who are linked together through their morbid fascination for death. Their pursuit of a serial killer gets them close to a couple of dead bodies, but that's about as gruesome and horrific as it gets.
When a serial killer hits a quiet neighborhood in Tokyo the media smells a good story. The killer is turning his victims into artworks and is putting them on display throughout the neighborhood. Two classmates are fascinated by his particular methodology and their eerie fascination for all that is dead urges them to find out more about the killings. Along the road they discover a little bit more about themselves, all leading to a rather twisted finale.
From the poster artwork to early trailers and promo material, it is obvious that Goth would be an interesting visual tour de force. I must admit I'm quite partial to bleeding colors and over-saturated shots and so there was plenty here for me to enjoy. The film looks very beautiful with a couple of stand-out scenes that still linger. I was particularly happy to see that Takahashi kept the visual level constant throughout the film, not taking the easy road once the main storyline reached cruising speed.
The soundtrack on the other hand could've used some tweaking. Not that it is bad or insufficient, but I felt it simply didn't add enough to the overall atmosphere. A film like this in particular could've benefited from a tighter and more atmospheric score. Luckily the acting is strong, with a convincing main cast and a range of decent secondary performances. Definitely helpful in bringing some extra depth to the dramatic stretches of the film.
Apart from the lush visuals Goth knows to impress with an interesting set of characters and an unusual course for its leads. It might be a little hard to grasp their motivations (unless you have a fascination by the morbid yourself), at the same time it adds a mysterious feel, making sure the audience is keen to find out what's coming next. It's not the first film putting people in pursuit of a serial killer, but their self-serving motivations give a nice twist to the film.
The finale is quite perfect, concluding the film without too many loose end yet keeping a few lingering questions. The little twist at the end might not be all that necessary but it is eclipsed by the general tone of the climax. Tension and drama are nicely blended to conclude both parts of the film in a pretty satisfactory manner.
Goth is a strong film, elegantly transporting its audience to the universe of two unique individuals finding each other in a world that isn't really their own. Helped by strong performances and superb styling, Takahashi created an interesting mix of drama and thriller elements with a unique twist. Hopefully the film will go on to find the audience it deserves, seeing and judging the film for what it actually is.