Noroi is one of those rare examples of title that not only understands dread, but aspires to present it’s horror in a way that subverts the stale punch line of traditional scares. Directed by Koji Shiraishi, and adopting a found footage style seen in western counterparts such as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, Noroi manages to break away from its contemporaries by weaving a multi layered back story steeped in ancient Japanese folklore and archival footage.
This is a film that is not afraid to experiment. With a narrative presented through archival footage, newsreels and ancient texts. This is a story that is in no rush to reach it’s climax. Presented in the style of a made for TV programme, documentary filmmaker Masafumi Kobayashi attempts to uncover the kinds of supernatural occurrences often seen at midnight on The Discovery Channel, as a meandering investigation quickly gathers momentum thanks to the disappearance of a girl and the introduction of an eccentric psychic.
Every found footage horror lives or dies by its cast, and I’m pleased to report that Noroi does not disappoint. Masafumi Kobayashi, the film’s protagonist presents plausibility in his actions by his measured approach to his investigation. This is a man that loves what he does and is willing to risk his life for the sake of Journalistic integrity (a feat that even trumps the often absurd premise of why people would film such events in the first place). Special mention must be given to the performance of Satoru Jutsunashi in the role of Mitsuo Hori, the aforementioned eccentric psychic. Jutsunashi-san is faced with the difficult task of not only playing a role that is the films main point of exposition, but also its emotional core.
As you may of noticed I am carefully tip toeing around the actual events of the film as I feel to do otherwise would be a disservice to the reader. Suffice it to say this is a title that isn’t afraid to go for broke in it’s finale in order to leave its audience with mouths firmly agape. Fair warning though, Noroi is a film that doesn’t pander to its audience through cheap jump scares or a finite ending. However for those of you looking for a similarly rewarding experience akin to the likes of Pulse or A Tale of Two Sisters, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.