The Mystery of Rampo

The Mystery of Rampo ★★★½

Rampo finds his latest novel suppressed. Meanwhile, a woman is accused of murdering her husband in a crime eerily similar manner to the censored book. Rampo imagines his own detective character, the dashing Akechi, is one the case. The Mystery of Rampo is both an examination of the creative process and a Lynchian nightmare. This is one of the few films (along with The Reflecting Skin) to authentically capture the feel of a Lynchian dreamscape without being self-parodic or derivative. And while Rampo’s stories never as overtly blurred the line between the story’s “reality” and “fiction”, Rampo was a fan of inserting himself into his fiction. The film is accurate in its portrayal of Rampo as an amateur criminologist obsessed with solving current cases. His hero Akechi can save the day. He is Rampo’s idealized version of himself, the strong crimebuster who solves the case instead of the nebbishy bookworm Rampo. Unfortunately this was only one of two directorial ventures for Kazuyoshi Okuyama. He directs the hell out of this picture, incorporating animated sequences, computer graphics, negative film, muted colors, black and white noir pastiches and countless other techniques to create an experimental yet accessible thriller.