In a beautiful and riveting opening sequence set in the midst of a Thai rain-forest we are thrust straight into the overall tone of the movie. The whole six minute scene is made in one take, where the camera is seemingly detached from the action and only stumbles upon it from time to time capturing a rape scene and several minutes later the perpetrators are lying dead in the water.
From this we are transported into the lives of a town-dwelling marriage of well-off professionals May and Nop. As in the opening sequence there lives are detached from each other only occasionally touching each other as if almost by chance. Nop is engulfed in his photography as a means to escape his failing marriage, whilst May finds solace in the arms of her coworker Korn. Without much enthusiasm May and Nop plan an escape into the wilderness and go camping in the forest. Even here in the midst of nature and cut off from other companionship they hardly intertwine and seem to exist separately. Until one night Nop wanders off in the forest only to disappear…
Extremely consistent in eeriness it captivates the senses. Much thanks to the camera-work, which is terrific and beautiful stuff, albeit most of it is made with a hand-held camera making it almost reminiscent of “Blair Witch Project” (albeit with way better results). Given that this movie almost watches like a horror film it must be noted, that it is much more than just a typical genre movie. It remains creepy throughout shying away however from actually being a shock thriller or Asian horror. The ending leaves much unexplained and it would probably help a lot to be better acquainted with local mythology. Without it you can assume various plot points, but are ultimately left with many questions unanswered that seem solely cultural. Additionally the version I saw seemed to be missing a significant portion of the last 30 or so minutes and various situations seemed to have not been filmed or cut out.
All in all I found movie captivating and inspiring, although somewhat slow and drags on unnecessarily at times. The ending is not entirely satisfactory and slightly bland, but I admittedly preferred that it left so much to self-interpretation. Made a significant enough impression on me to search out other Pen-Ek Ratanaruang movies and note him down as an auteur filmmaker.
A surprisingly interesting meditation on the nature of regret in terms of the way it relates to paranoia. There’s a lot going on in this for having a run time of only 74 minutes, but it works. The scares are very subtle, not the jump-cut scares that seem to populate most recent Asian horror films. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, in this case. It means, in essence, that the filmmakers don’t punk out in the end the way they might’ve in, say, an American version of this story. THE BOOTH moves inexorably toward its (foregone) conclusion, but is so beautifully crafted on every level that one can enjoy the ride the way one might a familiar cruise along a well-travelled stretch of (very scenic) road. The claustrophobia is, at times, almost palpable. Worth a nice long look.
The Nippon Broadcasting Co.’s studio 6 sets the scene. A veteran late night talk show host receives a call from a woman suicide partner whom in thirty years has never grieved for. The phone and the lines start to sear with disruptions, he gets guilt/ghost stricken by her voice, feels trapped in his booth, and hangs himself. Many years later a popular radio host for Tokyo LoveLine is forced by circumstance to do his show from that same closed down studio. Shoto is all the rave with the late night lonelies, especially with the women listeners. He’s totally in control, holds his audience in his hands, and can effectively run the emotional gamut a show like this requires. He’s a potent mix of expressive personality, manipulativeness, insensitivity, gratuitous sympathy, and showmanship. Despite his womanizing (on the air, but mostly in flash backs) women adore and trust him. We are in Shoto’s shoes, as his image fills the screen for the duration. We ride his highs and squirm with his lows. But the highs are at best very intermittent because Shoto is suddenly faced with a similar predicament to his suicide predecessor in Studio 6. Except this is the extended circuit, the prime feature in full color.
The movie mostly took place in a small, out-dated radio station’s studio with a very bad history, where the main character was forced to broadcast his talk show due to the radio station was in the process of re-locating. It is from this confined space that this movie thrives and makes you feel very claustrophobic and very paranoid. At time our protagonist can not determined the strange happenings in the old studio were caused by ghost or some conspiracy by his co-workers or it was all in his mind. What I like about this film is that the film-makers makes you see through the eyes of the main character and makes you just as paranoid as protagonist did. The great communicator is caught naked–he cannot communicate and fakes his way through to music breaks. He grows more and more distraught as the booth seems to be conspiring against him, He feels more and more crampt, and desperate losing all scope, and all fellowship with his technical staff. Is he up against the ghost of a woman he has abused and perhaps left for dead, her actual self, an office staff conspiracy to bring him down, or plain guilt?
What we do know is that crimes against women possess these two love experts to the point that these harmed women inhabit them and demand their own justice. By what medium this is done is not important. What does matter is that these betrayers of women can no longer live with their hypocrisy, their crime, their guilt. And that their huge public gets the message. The key strength of “The Booth” is that in never abandons reality for fantasy. The dead indeed may have awakened, but in a way that no viewer can doubt. Thirty years of stoical waiting in a grave, or several hours afloat in the vast sea, that impact can arise out of nothingness is never in question. If the two women have been given the power of lovers, so can they possess the power of judge. The booth itself is proof of that.
While still nowhere close to the original “Ringu” trilogy, at least “Sadako 3D 2″ was a step up from its abysmal predecessor “Sadako 3D” – not much, but still noticeably improved. What made “Sadako 3D 2″ better than the previous was a more solid and thought through storyline as there was a red line throughout the movie, whereas the previous movie was messy, confusing and seemed mostly like random clips put together.
But still for a Japanese horror movie of this genre “Sadako 3D 2″ wasn’t particularly scary. Sure, there were some nice scenes here and there throughout the movie, but as a whole there just wasn’t enough scares in the movie to match other similar movies. One thing that impressed me was the acting performance put on by child actress Kokoro Hirasawa (playing Nagi). She, and she alone, was carrying this movie without a doubt, and she was genuinely capable of portraying some rather disturbing and spooky scenes with her body language and facial expression. Thumbs up for that! The effects in “Sadako 3D 2″ also had a very noticeable improvement from the previous movies and it was more of an enjoyable experience to sit through this movie than it was with part one.
Still, the plot had strayed quite far from the original trilogy. And whether or not you like that or not is, of course, a personal preference. Of course it is good with new ideas and new blood, but if why change something that isn’t broken? These two additions to the “Ringu” legacy seems to have set out to accomplish a little bit too much or going for a grander and more epic scale, but failed to fully grasp it and deliver where it would impress. It was a good thing that director Tsutomu Hanabusa didn’t include those laughable creatures that make their appearance in the first “Sadako 3D” movie. They were just ridiculous. While not fully there yet, “Sadako 3D 2″ is a mediocre addition to the “Ringu” legacy, and your overall experience would not be any less if you miss out on this movie (or the previous one).
Pintu Terlarang (aka the Forbidden Door) is a brilliant film, plain and simple. Joko Anwar, the director, did a fabulous job constructing the imagery of the psychological thriller with magnificent scoring, impressive casts and smart plot line. Though the film, itself came from the best-selling novel by Sekar Ayu, I found that it only took major plot from the novel. To be honest, I did not know about the ending until it was revealed. Quite a shock! Both Fachri Albar and Marsha Timothy gives one of the best performances of their career, the powerful performances with complex emotions. Some scene are quite disturbing but it helps the film to build intense in beautiful cinematography, the Joko Anwar’s style.
The multi-part climax and ending could be described predictable, surprising, (Yes, both of those) as truly epic, and cryptic. I think I’ve figured what it was supposed to mean, though even had you left the theatre merely confused, you’ll appreciate the craft and you will have been affected by the movie. The acting and direction is top notch, and I can attest that the movie was foreboding even when interrupted by technical difficulties and projector problems as my theatre endured when the movie was screened. I would love to see more work by these people.
Joko Anwar make this movie so heartbreaking which is making you keep staying in your chair. The point is, this movie will make you forget the world, and after saw this movie, I promise, that your brain will full with your own idea about the ending, because, baby, the ending is so cool. You can put some point of view about the ending. Fachri Albar give a bad-ass performance. He is really great. And, Marsha Timothy can act well too. She can act as a wife who is really mysterious with really great. The art direction is totally awesome. And the music score is really, really make you wanna jumped out from your chair. Just watch this movie, watch the Christmas dinner scene and you will forget anything! Trust me.
It is a bold, horrifying, intense and mean noir psychological horror. The horrid surreal atmosphere and chilling gore very much remind me of Lynch’s and Aronofsky’s style which is outstanding. Watching this movie really gives you a more complex horrid feeling than any kind of Indonesian horror with excessive portion of demon and ghost appearance more than you beg for of which you can’t help but to smirk. And fairly said, this movie has put back faith in me that indeed Indonesian filmmaker can so do much better than only of those sex exploit movies and series of ridicule horror. Finally said, this movie is very recommended as an introductory to a fine piece of Indonesian modern cinema. And despite the plot may not be very original at all and at some point the gory scene may need a little extra stomach to bear, but to skip this modern horror experience would be a sin to every horror/thriller movie lover.
I’m just as much a fan of gory, splatterhouse exploitation films as the next sicko, but when it comes to generating a chill down the spine, there is something to be said for being as terse as possible with onscreen imagery. For fans of subtle, atmospheric and extremely creepy movies, especially around this time of year, House in the Alley is a dead-on success. The brilliantly understated story moves swiftly, is told beautifully, and enough questions are left unanswered to maximize the mystery of it all, yet not so many that the plot is left full of holes. The music is sparse and atmospheric, and the images are beautifully shot and edited, with great use of filters and composites to give the appropriate washed out looks where necessary. The effects, used minimally, are flawless and very creepy without seeming garish or overbearing.
Until they lose their baby to a miscarriage, a young couple were happily settling into their new life in their spacious home. After the tragedy, Thao is inconsolable and won’t let her baby’s body leave the house. Normal life eludes her as terrifying visions undermine her sanity. Her husband, Thanh, experiences strange phenomena around their home and when his wife turns on him, he must race to uncover the secrets of the house in the alley before they lose their sanity and their lives.
Considering the obvious budgetary restrictions, the filmmakers could not afford to transform the house into a full-blown character, and the film is at its most effective when centering on the melodrama inherent in the psychological horror. The film is creepy enough without the addition of children of the damned tiptoeing across the roof or mysteriously appearing in mirrors. The few concessions that are made to modern horror films are as unwarranted as they are quaint. Though I do admit that a smile crossed my face when a primitive, stop-motion toddler briefly popped up from beneath the sheets.
As with classics like The Changeling and 1963’s The Haunting, House in the Alley is a perfect example of how you can still muster a scare from a jaded populace without resorting to cheap jolts and gore. More Blair Witch Project than Sleepaway Camp, and thus far more impressive than most recent attempts at terror. Now if I could just stop hiding from my television…
I love Japanese horror as it so often blends a sophisticated story into some of the most frightening cinematic moments in the genre. This collection is slow, boring, very cheaply produced and not in the least bit scary. Let us dive into what stories they present, shall we? Crevices, in my opinion, is the very best short on the DVD. It’s about a man who has to go to an old friend’s apartment due to the fact that the friend has not paid rent in three months. When the manager shows him the apartment, the man is shocked to discover that the room is covered in red tape. He takes the tape down and looks around for clues to his friend’s disappearance, but it’s not long before strange things begin to happen. Crevices is all about the horror and the fantasy present in the mundane. Zombies and elaborate curses certainly have their place, but what could be scarier than danger attributed to something that is all around you, something you don’t even give a second thought on a normal basis? The way the camera is handled really adds to the creepy factor. There are several wonderful shots that really add to the mood. The filming method is simplistic and not at all flashy, which adds to the feeling that there is much to be feared in normalcy.
Some people complain about Presentiment’s slow pace, but I think the film is very suited to it. It allows the tension to gradually rise and for the viewer to get more and more suspicious about the three passengers right along with the man. It also gives the viewer a sense of what the man must feel- that time in the elevator is stretching out and running in slow motion when he needs desperately to be on the fast track. I also really enjoyed the acting. The three passengers made this short shine, for me.
Thirdly, I’ll talk about Blonde Kwaidan, because there isn’t really a lot to say. Ironically, the Shimizu film that prompted my friend to purchase for me is the one that stands out as the worst. I didn’t even manage to find much humor in this one, aside from one or two lines. It’s about a Japanese man on a business trip to America; he is to stay in the house of an executive director from his work because the executive director is on vacation. The man has a great obsession with blondes, and is beside himself with jealousy to see a photo of a beautiful blonde girl he assumes to be the executive director’s girlfriend. Soon enough, though, he starts to see things out of the corner of his eye and get the feeling of being touched.
The last film is called Sacrifice. This is about a woman who is asked out by a co-worker. She declines him, but finds out that another girl also turned him down and what he told that girl was this: “I’ll put a curse on you.” Interestingly, the “cursed” girl quit a short time after that. The protagonist starts to find mutilated bugs on her desk and one night arrives home to see a shape in blood (and the fake blood they used was a terrible quality- bright lipstick red) outside her door. The story’s plot isn’t too bad, and the special effects aren’t terrible, but it just drags on and in the end hasn’t much substance to it. The apparition was really very unnecessary and just seemed to be added for extra “scare” value (though I really didn’t find it scary… just ugly). The funniest thing about this one is Fukuda, the man who puts the curse on the girl (whose name, you probably have gathered, I have forgotten). He’s probably the creepiest guy I’ve ever seen. If I turned around in the light of day on a crowded street and saw him behind me I’d probably still scream. He almost looks like he would be very mild-mannered, yet he is so obviously a stalker, and obsessed with curses to boot.
Chinese horror flick Baby Blues starts off with blogger Snowy and songwriter Tao getting married, and moving into an old house, where Snowy takes a liking to a doll left by the previous owner. Soon, Snowy is pregnant with twins, which is unusual since neither Tao nor Snowy have a history of twins in their family. Then, a homeless man who lives at the end of their road issues a chilling warning – move out … or else. During the purchase process, Snowy grows fond of a doll left behind by the previous owner.
The overall execution of it left the movie only as eerie rather than terrifying to watch. There were very few moments that made one jump out of their skin; in fact rarely was there such a scene. Baby Blues is a letdown in its plot pacing and its use of horror elements. Leong places too much emphasis on small sequences and amplifies the audio in moments that are not always necessary. Things begin to improve as the story picks up in the 3rd act and the characters realize the extent of their predicament. However, this comes a tad too late as it all ends just when the momentum rises.
Struggling to make the next big hit, Hao seeks inspiration for the doll and comes up with a seemingly audacious tune that his music producers disapprove. One day, a music diva, played by Kate Tsui, arrives in town and at a press interview, sees Hao and asks to collaborate with him. This line between personal life and work is blurred when Tian Qing asks to interview her and finds out a possible affair that Hao may have with her. Lam’s real-life girlfriend Karena Ng plays Tian Qing’s sister and Hao’s sister-in-law, and her introduction into the film by means of staying over with the couple is by far the most random of appearances. She and Hao become aware of the consequences of keeping the doll and realise that it may be cursed, but it is too late as the doll has already taken over Tian Qing’s mind.
In horror movies, couples, children and dolls are common sights that are usually involved at the core of most stories. Helmed by UK-born Chinese director Leong Po-Chih, it is these tools that Hong Kong horror flick Baby Blues make use of in its plot, but what comes out as a result does not live up to expectations. Watch it if you feel like watching something creepy, with haunting sounds but just too jittery for a horrifying one.
Five young people, a quiet doll maker in a wheelchair and her dedicated helper, a chained old man in the basement and a mysterious young girl in red… all together in a lonely doll museum in the woods. What starts out as a fun trip to pose for new dolls soon turns into a nightmare that not everyone will survive. As for the characters, it’s a horror film, you’re not really expecting anything memorable. I found I remembered names and faces better than most Asian horror films I’ve seen, which suggests there must have been some hidden character development that I didn’t consciously notice. The typical stereotypes are out in force in this movie each one having some kind of character quirk that sets them apart from the others, from shy and quiet Yeong-ha and her doll Damien, to the outgoing bimbo Seon-yeong.
The plot itself was fairly cool, even though the ending, which bought together many of the loose strands of plot, seemed a bit confused and didn’t really do anything for me, although it did have a couple of really cool plot-twists that I won’t ruin here. The basic plot is a bunch of kids are invited to be modelled as dolls by a famous reclusive old doll maker, they have to stay in the creepy house (adorned with scary dolls, some big some small) and things start to happen as our heroine Hae-mi starts to explore areas of the house and things start happening to the other inhabitants. The movie is well made. The visuals are stunningly good. Plot is pretty exciting, but acting by some of the actors are spotty that takes away from the near perfect production of this film. Korean movies have made a giant leap forward in the 21st century, and it shows in this movie. I think this movie is better produced than some of the venerable Japanese horror movies.
You’ll cover your eyes and ears during some parts. The tension is extreme throughout the movie and it constantly changes your perception of the horrors that the characters encounter. What I mean by this is that once you think you’ve figured out how the horrors can take place, the movie throws something different at you to make you think different. It’s a little reminiscent of The Grudge, and adds a new twist to the “evil doll-genre”. All the actors did a great job, but the once who really stand out are the guy who invites everyone to the mansion and Yu-Mi. Especially Hae-Mi as Yu-Mi delivers a stunning performance. The story is very strong with a lot, and I mean A LOT of twists as well as impressive writing. The plot throws something different at you every 10 minutes or so, never leaving you bored or making you take your eyes off the screen. Only watch this if you want to enjoy a rich story, get freaked out, scared out of your mind and love dolls!
There are some unexpected shocks and one sweetly nasty kill scene, as well as a certain poignant and interesting emotional current. Coming onto the emotional and psychological side of the film brings us to the main problem, that being that the film never quite manages to gel its plot, its horror and its underlying themes, with a rushed final act, kinda silly finale and an overall feeling that there should have been more scares or grue. I mean, its not completely dry but somehow when I bought it and read on the box that it featured strong and bloody violence, I expected something more than a film that has less grue than a number of 15 certificate horrors I’ve come across. Its not even that I demand gore with my horror, but this was one that blatantly doesn’t deserve its 18 certificate. As well as this niggle, though its one I’ll almost certainly revisit, I’m not sure I can see its themes and their treatment holding up on repeat viewings. There are moments that called be called trite and fairly weak and undistinguished characters too. Altogether I’d say this is quite a nice effort from director Yong-Ki-Jeong, original, fun and interesting, but it definitely needed more thought, more intensity and better characterisation. Just about worth a watch if you really dig Asian horror and need to catch them all, but more casual viewers likely will not be so impressed.
Cult has borrowed from quite a few well-known US and Japanese horrors and put them to good use, with Paranormal Activity‘s multi-camera technique being the most obvious. But I’m not one to shy away from low budget: Some of my very favorite horror films have had tiny budgets. And the movie has three things going for it: First, all three of our actresses turn in quite respectable performances, as does Mari Hayashida as Tomoe. Second, you don’t often see either in JHorror films, or “Paranormal Activity” genre films, that priests and exorcists are treated as having abilities as real as those of the evil spirits.
This is an odd little movie, obviously a B quickie. I’m not going to write a novel about it, but since there are no reviews or description at all at the time I write this, a little commentary might prove useful to someone. So, we start with the premise that three C-list actresses (level-headed Yuu, delicate Mari, and attractive-but-bubbleheaded Mayuko, all playing stereotyped versions of themselves) are being pushed by their management company into doing a reality-TV project where they tag along with a traditional exorcist who’s tasked with cleansing evil spirits from a house newly purchased by Tomoe Kaneda and her daughter Miho. The whole film is presented reality-TV style with a mix of footage from “hidden cameras” and and from the trio’s one-woman camera crew. Unsurprisngly, you learn almost at once that the evil spirits are real. And presented to us in low-budget CG.
Unfortunately, there’s even more not to love. First, from the moment it starts, there’s the “cinematography” (if that isn’t too grand a word for the combination of camera, scenery and lighting work) on display here. It’s as if they took the concept of “shoot it like a reality show” to mean that they should simply point the camera and hope for the best. All of the backgrounds, for example, are well-lit and dull, and in the rare instances where they have some telling detail, they actually — no kidding — freeze frame and zoom in on it. Then, we see that not a single one of the male actors bring anything. And, in fact, as the movie goes along, the male performances get steadily worse. On top of that, the script is, well, thin. What it adds up to, I think, is that there’s just not a single scary or creepy moment. Not the loveliness of chills down your back, nor tension in your breathing, nor even the short shock of unpleasant surprise.
You even less often see a movie that portrays the priests/exorcists as knowing stronger/more skilled people to call when they’re over their heads. As what begins as one junior exorcist trying to clean a house for the sake of one middle-school girl widens out into a larger struggle. Should we expect something good to Koji Shiraishi whose track record borders on absolute trash? Subtitles are a problem for lots of people and I can understand why. Finally, the ending might as well be a fade out on the words “We have irrational hopes for a sequel!” In all, I’m not angry at having spent the time to watch, but honestly, if you ask me in three months, I imagine I’ll be hard-put to remember this movie.