When oddball auteur Kiyoshi Kurosawa received an eccentric offer to make two films in two weeks, on a low budget and using the same cast, the result was the cinematic equivalent of fraternal twins.
Though both Spider's Gaze and Serpent's Path are gangster films about the desire for revenge, and both films feature a protagonist named Nijima played convincingly by Sho Aikawa, the two films are completely different in tone and plot.
Nonetheless, they seem freakishly interlocked in ways that defy the conventionally linear relationship of a sequel, as each of these enigmatic, absorbing films elucidates and alters our understanding of the other. Spider's Gaze concerns Nijima, a white-collar worker who one day finds the man responsible for his young daughter's brutal rape and murder.
He tortures and interrogates the man, who maintains his innocence, before killing and burying him. He returns to his ordinary life feeling listless and hollow, until he meets an old high school friend who introduces him to his hapless band of hired killers. His skill in the assassination business catches the attentions of a bigger crime boss.
For reasons that remain opaque, Nijima is assigned to investigate his friend, which ultimately results in a bloody confrontation.
In spite of its grisly subject matter, the film is remarkably light and filled with loopy details, such as mobsters training on rollerblades and a fossil-obsessed godfather, that recall the absurdist flourishes of Haruki Murakami novels or Seijun Suzuki films. This film was screened at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival as part of the Director's Spotlight.