Perfect Blue (1997) / The Moor (2023)
Quoting her mom, Toby Poser, Lulu — the eldest daughter of the Adams family — is a “life eater”. Infused with a thirst for the outdoors and travel, she is often away from home, both in terms of travelling and studying a joint masters/doctorate in Counselling at Edinburgh University. Six years older than her sister Zelda, she is often working behind the scenes when she is back home, building sets and lending a crucial eye (and voice) on the production of her family's films. But, as her studies and own burgeoning interest in psychology have proved (it's reflected in her choice of films!), Lulu has developed a keen awareness in looking at interpersonal dialogue and psychodynamics — something that has grown from years of hearing the deeper ins and outs of people’s lives — what consumes the individual; understanding aspects of practical behaviour that help people heal (and deal) with life. I caught up with Lulu again while visiting the Mayhem Festival back in October of 2023, not only to discuss her chosen double bill but also the close relationship with her sister and those movie memories they share…
You and Zelda have a distinct sense of adventure — the outdoors and travel — how important has ‘getting lost’ in your backyard been for the two of you growing up?
Spending time outside — and I mean really immersed in it — has been massive for Zelda and myself. It has always been a reset and something that brings us both into the present, providing more compassion for our world. It is a place of natural beauty, free from judgment for us to be able to express our art as a family. This appreciation of nature is evident in our movies as well — always playing a key role in our cinematography — as my dad already mentioned: she’s our main character! As for traveling, speaking for myself it has always been something I try to do when possible. The last few years I’ve made sure to fit in some time outdoors. This has been a mix of embarking on nomadic adventures — by finding jobs abroad so I could travel while working — or to travel for film festivals when offered the chance. Now I study abroad and travel on long weekends. This desire and encouragement from our parents to get outside and discover things have been wonderful for giving a comfortability to speak with and listen to individuals’ who have vastly different experiences or perspectives. This has often resulted with overcoming and/or exploring discomfort with an innate curiosity.
What is your relationship with your sister?
Zelda and I have always been close. It’s been important to my family that we are all equals and friends with each other. She and I bonded from the start by growing up in the same wild lifestyle in which we would often be moving, going wild camping, and living on the road in an RV making movies. We grew up producing art outside for hours and making up games in the dirt. It was often just us two kids and that really nurtured our friendship and allowed us to see each other in all moods, settings, etc.
What are the similarities and the major differences?
I’d say Zelda and I are most similar in our love for the quirky, artsy, feminist things in life and the things that are at face value. We love nature and female punk bands and French noir films. Some major differences (I think) are my talkative nature (loudness!) versus Zelda’s amazing aura of serenity. She can also be a very steadfast yet graceful worker whereas I can be more sporadic… yet precise.
What was your earliest memory of the movies?
One of my earliest memories is shooting in the middle of nowhere with our RV in Arizona and we were just learning how to work our sound mics. To get a shot just in time before sunset, my dad had to run up this little mountain to set up the shot and he had left on his mic so we heard him huffing and puffing up the hills and then yelling “Okay, go!” And then running back down to get in the shot with us before the sun died out. It was a great, goofy, rushed memory and reminded me of our early work with nature as both our challenger and helper.
What attracted you to this double bill, in particular? On the surface they appear vastly different… but what specifically are you presenting as ‘companion pieces’ in terms of themes, threads etc.?
I was attracted to this double bill because of the extreme opposition they both first seem to have, but a similar feeling of relatability and discomfort and internal chaos while watching each of them again. The common themes I noticed were breaks in reality and confusion created for both the main characters and the audience, along with a finely crafted sense of eeriness and suspense throughout. Both these films’ focus on what is real becoming surreal are tangible. You realise there is a familiar humanness of difficulty that separates reality from the ‘magical’ or horrific presence when in a state of mania. Both the main characters are not presented as psychotic or irrational at the start, and in their normalcy we see the possibility of experienced psychosis when pushed in the right ways, while in all the worst scenarios.
There is also an emphasis on exaggerations of common problems where pain is hidden and not mentioned because it’s seen as dramatic or based on things society doesn't see as important or valid to sympathise with. When comparing them both I’m struck by the concept of ‘hidden in plain sight’; to be alone within a packed world of people. The two films symbolize the psychological effects; from depression to extreme anxiety, self-isolation, lashing out, and hallucinations. There is also a theme following lack of sleep in which both characters start to blur one day into many others as they are seen drifting off and waking back up immediately or waking up during dark hours… and setting off again. The strong sense of mania starts to build up and fester in these characters as they slowly lose touch with real life and reason and fall deeper into a hole.
There seems to be a foreboding atmosphere and ‘quietness’ to each film.
Yes. As the films go on, they both use that quietness to keep the listener unattached but on edge. There is a great deal of suspense, and then, suddenly, uncomfortably loud while sinister sounds replace it in exaggerated short bursts. This sporadic change itself even puts the viewers into a sudden chaotic ambience and lack of trust in the experience they have been put into. Additionally, there is a horribly relatable thread of those most dear to us breaking our trust and causing the most pain, as each character is stuck in a confused sense of betrayal and disbelief. With Mima Kirigoe in Perfect Blue, we see her in uncharacteristic, violent manners and with Claire in The Moor we watch her friend, Bill, slowly become a sinister part of the evil he himself wanted to fight against. How far can one be pushed by society’s expectations and the isolation and loss from no longer being a part of it? This is what I think both these films essentially explore, in vastly different backgrounds, stories and mediums. With this in mind, if I were to screen them both, I would recommend everyone see The Moor first.
Have you always appreciated anime or have you always just treated Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue as a genre piece? Hell… just a great ‘film’…
I have only recently started to watch more anime and truly appreciate it. So, when I first watched Perfect Blue, I was watching it as a novice lover of anime (in an in-between state), while also seeing it as a genre piece. In comparison to the other anime films and TV shows I have watched, I noticed the obvious style and common themes such as the over-sexualization of female characters and costumes. Kon’s film still feels unique within the realms of anime with an air of deep psychological turmoil exhibited through a main female character.
What is it specifically about The Moor that had such an effect on you?
The Moor deeply affected my human comfortability; I felt anxious seeing normal people so deeply consumed by the death of a family member, and seeing their gradual tensions become violent actions. There was betrayal from a father figure and lots of emotional strain, within the characters and as a viewer, that was very slowly growing throughout the film. The tension was not broken until much later in the film and that greatly kept my mind’s attention and body entranced. Also, the eerie but simple soundtrack drew me into the quiet, desolate, arid environment and reminded me of the opposing shadow side of nature. I have always seen nature as a beautiful, welcoming, rejuvenating figure in my life, and now I was reminded of the deep sense of mystery behind its inhuman side and its wonderfully terrifying strength and ability to consume us all.
Both films deal with obsession and (for the most part) have an invisible killer at the centre of the story but there is also the contrast between the enclosure of the city and the remaining open space of the countryside. Which do you feel is more terrifying?
For me, the enclosure of a city is vastly more terrifying because of its complexity. Outside, I can see my surroundings and things approaching, my exit options, etc., whereas inside a metropolitan area, I am physically confined already. The lack of fresh air and exposure to what is happening outside is terrifying. To not know all doorways or spaces around oneself and all the modern-day technical aspects — like being watched by hidden cameras and alarms that might be set off — that is hugely uncomfortable for me. In Perfect Blue, this is shown repeatedly as she is being watched from afar and from unknown perspectives, and the fatiguing need to run away through doorways into another foreign space.
What are your thoughts on animation often being dismissed as ‘just for kids’ and remaining closed off to the likes of Perfect Blue?
I can understand the belief as a recent outsider, but after being told by so many others that animation is a fantastic medium to enjoy for many reasons, I realised there must be a reason for this. And this was quickly confirmed as soon as I watched my first animation on a long list of recommendations.
What is it about each film’s use of voyeurism that differs slightly? Thinking how one is more supernatural, the other more grounded in reality.
I believe the big difference between the voyeurism in each film was the route of its evil. In The Moor, the voyeurism aspect came from a natural landscape that was sort of always present and watching and waiting, whereas in Perfect Blue it came from an outsider looking in as well as into her own mind. In The Moors, there was a sense of the environment always looking over Claire; it was alluring and inviting her into its depths. Perfect Blue showed another human stalking from near and afar, that slowly became one with its person of fixation at some points. Mima seemed to even (at times) be cognisant of being watched and it slowly was driving her mad as she attempts to run away from what plagues her. In The Moor, Claire was aware of what ‘thing’ was watching, yet unaware of its strengths, while actively seeking out the threat.
Director Chris Cronin stated at FrightFest last year that he was influenced just as much by Eastern (specifically Korean) cinema as he was by Western. Having travelled and experienced different cultures and environments, what have you found at the heart of each place that remains the same (the most truthful) and can often end up on screen for us all to relate to… or remain shocked by?
What comes to mind is the desire of all of us to struggle with avoiding struggling and our eventual tendency to seek closure or understanding from these hardships after having our asses handed to us for too long. We all have a breaking point and strive to avoid it and then finally resolve this when it arises. Whichever culture (or country), I think this theme is often what keeps our attention and gives us sympathy and hope for many characters in cinema.
That’s a really thoughtful point to end on. It was lovely to catch up again Lulu and chat movies!
Great to meet you again, Rich — I have loved answering each of these great questions! All the best.
Follow Lulu on Instagram @therealluluadams. Where the Devil Roams is currently available on various streaming services and pay per view in the US. Please visit Wonder Wheel Productions for updates on other regions' releases along with the Adams family's Instagram @adams.family.films. You can also listen to the Adams family's band, H6llb6nd6r, via Spotify.
Check out the rest of the Adams family's COMPANION PIECES: