Sunday, 14 August 2011
Forget what you’ve heard, this film isn’t scary, I’m not trying to sound like a macho man either; this film contains no gore or violence, doesn’t include any shock scares and really doesn’t set about trying to scare you. Much more it works as a thriller, as against the clock the protagonists try to unearth the story behind a cursed videotape, of which they are afflicted. It doesn’t seem necessary to dwell on the plot too much, seeing as the basics are now pop culture staples in much the same way as the Shining is. It reminded me a lot of The X-Files, the way slowly clues or hints would crop up and they track it down. Also the leads, intelligent journalist Reiko and her ex and have the same kind of chemistry, not exactly sexual tension or love, but something close.
I guess why people confuse this film with a horror is the overwhelmingly oppressive and heavy feel of the film. You get the sincere feel from the outset that you’re watching dead men walking, feebly fighting the inevitable. The acting to the settings to the cinematography are bleak, grey and dark. The score is amazing, this is a deathly quiet film that is gently punctuated by mundane noises.
I’ve long thought this film might be a commentary on Japanese life, you’re cooped up with no future and only small fleeting pleasures. You must work very hard before you die merely to kick off life for your children, who have to go through the same routine. This sounds a lot to me like a critique of the Chebol business model and the ending, which I won’t spoil, seems to reinforce the notion that life is not just your own.
There is only one way to watch this film, in silence, with no disruptions, alone. The atmosphere buffers you down and the result is amazing. I recommend watching this version before the American remake as here the plot is a mystery instead of a vehicle for scares. Both are very good in my opinion, but nothing quite matches the sinister, reflective nature of this film. Scare, no, but this film will creep the daylights out of you.