Saturday, 31 January 2015

Horrors of 2014: Tusk (2014)

Tusk (2014)
Director: Kevin Smith
Starring: Justin Long, Michael Parks, and Haley Joel Osment
Running Time: 102 min

  I think Kevin Smith can be a really brilliant story teller and I've seen his one man shows and I've dug most of his films, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he does in more of a horror vein.  I like the concept of this film because it's dark and there are so few walrus type films available. Maybe Smith has opened a door to a whole new world of terror.

  Podcast superstar, Wallace Bryant and his co-host Teddy Craft discover a video of kid accidentally hacking off his leg with a samurai sword.  The video has gone viral and Wallace has landed an interview with the "Kill Bill Kid" for the next episode of their podcast.  However, the "Kill Bill Kid" lives in Canada, so Bryant packs up his bags and flies up there alone, even though his girlfriend, Ally begs him to take her along.  Sorry doll, this is a one pod caster man job.
  When Wallace arrives, he heads over to the "Kill Bill Kid"'s house only to discover that all this hoopla and internet stardom has driven him to kill himself.  Disappointed that he can't get the story, he calls Teddy to give him the heads up and tells him that he'll try and find another Canadian weirdo to interview for the show.  Conveniently while Wallace is pissing, he comes across an ad for a room for rent but in the ad, it mentions that home owner, Howard Howe has led a fascinating life with many strange and exotic stories that he is willing to share.  Bingo! Thank you bulletin board above the pisser!
  Wallace stops at a convenience store for a bug gulp and to get directions, the teen girls working there give him the directions and diss him for being an American.  Wallace jumps in his car, calls Teddy to give him the good news and drives over to home of Howard Howe.  When Wallace arrives, Howard offers him some tea and jumps into some fantastic stories about him and Hemingway and the second world war.  Gripped by the stories and gulping down the delicious tea, Wallace is mesmerized by a piece of memorabilia on the wall.  Howard tells him that it is the bones from a walrus penis and starts to tell him the story about how on one of his adventures, he became stranded on an island and his only friend he had was a walrus named Mr. Tusk.  Unfortunately, the drugs in the tea start kicking in and Wallace passes out during this harrowing tale.
  When Wallace wakes up, he is missing a leg and is strapped to a wheelchair.  Howard explains to him that he loved that walrus, Mr. Tusk and that he is going to use Wallace to recreate him.  Basically, he is going to turn Wallace into a Walrus.  Luckily, Howard is distracted momentarily and Wallace is able to send a message to his Ally and Teddy but before they can respond Howard takes the phone away from Wallace.  Can Wallace escape this deranged walrus lover and avoid getting tusked or is this the fate of the poor young pod caster, to turn into a spectacular story that his listeners would love?


   There are elements in this film that are really enjoyable and hit there marks.  Surprisingly, Justin Long (Accepted, Going the Distance) is great as this smarmy podcast douchebag guy and there are some moments that you actually feel sympathy for the character here, mostly when he does get turned in a walrus.  Nobody should be turned into a walrus, not even Justin Long.  Also, Michael Parks (Red State, Argo) is brilliant in this as Howard Howe.  He is spot on throughout the film and plays the character perfect.  He makes the character smart and sophisticated, then demented and unhinged but with the same kind of gentle charm.  For no other reason, besides seeing Justin Long get turned into a walrus, watch this for Michael Parks performance, it is fantastic.
  The horror and drama aspects in this are really great.  Smith can turn up the tension and there are some disturbing scenes that you wouldn't expect from such a funny guy.  After seeing this film, I think Kevin Smith has a serious dark side.  Watching the transformation scenes reminded me a lot of "Boxing Helena" and the only thing that would have made it better would have been if Smith took more time with the surgeries and made it a little slower.


  What I thought didn't hit the mark was some of the comedy aspects of the film.  Smith uses some really tired cliches aboot Canada and Canadians and they just fall flat.  Yes, we are polite and we say eh, and aboot, and maple syrup is delicious but it's just sad that someone who is so witty and funny can't think up something better and is forced to be so trite.  There is some darker humour with Long & Parks but it's more insane weird funny then the regular humorous prattle between characters that you expect for a film with the description comedy.
  Also,  Johnny Depp's character, Guy Lapointe was terrible and boring.  Johnny Depp (Mortdecai, Transcendence) plays yet another eccentric character that jabbers endlessly in the hopes that something the character says is funny or relevant.  His character is a french hunter that has been searching for Howard Howe for a long time and ends up trying to help Teddy and Ally find Wallace before it's too late.  This character takes up too much screen time and wastes it.  Depp doesn't even take the time to learn how to pronounce french words properly for his french character. Tres Tres terrible.


  I think this film had the potential to be an awesome, weird ass horror movie and could have been a classic in the same vein as Browing's "Freaks" but right in the middle, the film veers into this nonsensical Depp character film that we've seen dozens of times.  I, understand that this is a movie about someone being turned into a walrus but honestly, this is one of Justin Long's best performances in a while and Michael Parks kills it in this and it's such a shame that it gets wasted with the other nonsense.  This isn't a great movie but for Kevin Smith, it's good enough.  So if you finally want to see what Justin Long looks like as a Walrus and love seeing Johnny Depp as the same character as ever other movie he's in, then this is the fish for you. 

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Horrors of 2014: A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, and  Marshall Manesh
Running Time: 99 min

  I'm looking forward to seeing this film for a couple of reasons, one that it's shot in black & white, which has been coming back into style now and even though it is shot in California, all the dialogue is in Persian.  Which I think is pretty cool.  Also, it's tagged as "The first Iranian Vampire Western", so who can't be excited about that.  Hopefully it's so scary, I won't be able to walk home alone at night anymore. (Like I ever would be that anyway)

  In the almost deserted city of Bad City, Arash finds a cat and brings him home to his junkie father, who is having a confrontation with his drug dealer because he owes him money for junk.  Of course the father has no money, so the dealer takes the only thing that Arash owns and loves, his car.
  Pissed that the dealer took his car, that took him 4 years to save up for, Arash tries to find another way to get the money his father owes.  Unfortunately, the only option he sees is to steal a pair of fancy earrings from one of his landscaping clients beautiful daughter, Shaydah.  He swipes them and that evening tries to get the dealer on the phone, so he can get his car back.
  Meanwhile a girl is getting ready to hit the town, she dances around and when the night hits she's ready to go out.  She wanders the street searching for just the right person and tonight, Arash's father's dealer seems to be the perfect choice.  She bumps into him on the street and they go back to his place.  Then when he starts to get friendly, her fangs pop out and she feasts on his blood.  Once she finishes him off, she takes some jewellery and hits the road.
  Shortly after she leaves, Arash wanders into the dealers apartment and finds him dead.  So, Arash takes his money, drugs and drags the dealer into the Bad City dead body pit.  I'm not kidding, there is a pit in that town just for dead bodies, which is kind of gross and awesome at the same time.
  Anyway, Arash quits his landscaping business and becomes a drug dealer full time.  He ends up going to a really posh costume party, dressed as Dracula and runs into his dream girl, Shaydah.  He sells her and her friend some drugs and everything is going fine until, he pops a pill and tries to dance intimately with her.  She pushes him back and her boyfriend starts dancing with her.
  Bummed out and really really high, Arash wanders home but he ends up getting lost.  While staring at a tree, the vampire girl runs into him and they get to talking, well he is jabbering at her.  She brings him home and they end up really liking each other and holding each other all night.  Has Arash and the vampire girl finally found the love that they have been searching for all this time or will this romance turn ugly when they both find out that the other preys on the weak and helpless?


  This is a great love story and has some interesting artistic flare.  This is director Ana Lily Amirpour's first full length film and she totally kills it.  The look of the film is gorgeous and there are some things about it that reminds me of 50's & 60's French New Wave films, like movies from Godard, or Truffaut. Even the choice of music, which is brilliant, is reminiscent of that time period but in an updated Iranian way. It makes sense if you see that film.
  The story is good, it is too lost lonely souls whose paths finally intersect and find each other.  However, long it will last who knows but they have each other now.  The reveal at the end is perfect and I like how naturally the story plays out before the credits start to role.
  This film has some violence, which I'll touch on after, but what is more interesting is that there is some good humour in the film.  At one point, the vampire girl is mimicking Arash's father's movements, in a cartoon type homage that is really funny.  Also I like that the vampire girl travels by skateboard, that made me chuckle every time she rolls up.  It's not a bad thing because this is such a bleak world that Amirpour has created, it is nice that there are some scenes that pull you out of the dread and make you smile.


  As for the violence, there is some but it very moderate.  This is not a blood bath vampire picture.  It is a taut modern gothic love story with some blood sucking.  The story focus on the characters and not so much on a body count or how many gallons of blood is sprayed.  However it is not "Twilight" either, no one sparkles and people die, then get thrown in the town dead body pit.  Which is awesome!
   Also, I can appreciate what Amirpour is aiming for but I think she goes a little too far in the artistic art house flare a bit in one part of the film, when she has a character dance around with a balloon.  I think this is the only scene, where she lost me because there was a person dancing with a balloon and I was like wtf?  However after that short piece of artistic flare, she was able to get back to the story and continued on without any other weird, weirder hiccups.


  This was a fantastic film and enjoyed most of the nuances and strangeness of the piece.  It has a sad, but somewhat uplifting and scary story of two people trying to find love in dying town.  The cinematography is gorgeous and I loved the music as well.  So, if you are looking for a good horror story to rekindle that love of terror, then cuddle up with this film and let the hell fires burn.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

J-Horror January: The Sylvian Experiments (2010)

The Sylvian Experiments (aka Kyôfu) (2010)
Director: Hiroshi Takahashi
Starring: Yôko Chôsokabe, Mina Fujii, and Momoko Hatano
Running Time: 94 min

  This is a film from director Hiroshi Takahashi, who was on the writing team for most of the Ringu/Ring film series.  This looks like this is his second feature but he has done a ton of writing for other directors. Let's see how well he can put his own ideas across into the cellusphere .

  Dr. Hattori and her husband, Dr. Hattori, are watching a 16mm film about an experimental brain surgery that has been found in the basement of an abandoned hospital.  That's where all the best movies are.  Their young daughters, Miyuki and Kaori join them to see what the hub bub is about and are immediately fixated on the white light that eventually envelopes the screen.
  Years later and long after their father's suicide, Kaori goes looking for her sister who has gone missing.  Unfortunately, Kaori doesn't know that Miyuki has joined a suicide club and is in the process of killing herself.  Luckily, one  the members of the suicide club is not really into suicide at all, but a plant.  When everybody in the van goes under and think they are dying from carbon monoxide, he and a team of doctors grab the unconscious bodies from the deadly van and load them into there not so deadly white van.  Then, they are then brought back to the basement of a hospital, told that they are dead and then have brain surgery done on them. Yea..?  
  However when Miyuki is taken to surgery, she discovers that it is her own mother, Dr. Hattori who is doing the experiments.  The doctor proceeds on her daughter, explaining to her that she is trying to discover if there really is an afterlife and that Miyuki taking one for science.  Unfortunately, the experiment goes too well and Miyuki begins to show signs of having some unnatural powers now.  So she and another experiment girl, Reiko escape the hospital.
  Meanwhile, Kaori is still searching for her sister, but she has the help of Miyuki's boyfriend, Dr. Motojimi, as well as the help from the police.  Kaori and Dr. Kotojimi eventually find out that Miyuki has been abducted by crazy old mom and has been experimented on, but that she is now lost and has some incredible powers.  Can these people find Miyuki before she and Reiko become to powerful to stop and they destroy the world or is it too late for mankind and it's sciences' fault... again? Damn you science!


  This was a little dull and maybe a little too high concept for me.  I like the idea that it's a mad doctor searching to find out if there is an afterlife but I found that the story gets lost and confusing at times.  I think that director Hiroshi Takahashi (Sodom the Killer) has maybe bitten off more than he can chew here and the story just isn't cohesive enough.
  Also there is a lot of wandering around scenes, which anyone knows from watching B-movies or anything from "The Asylum", that they are just padding for time.  There doesn't ever seem to be that much going on and no one ever seems that pressed for time to find Miyuki.  Endless walking and existential talking but nothing that intense or scary really happens until the end.


  The ending is certainly interesting and the epilogue is better.  Takahashi does know how to end a film well, he seems to hold the story tight to his chest and saves any of the action until very end but I don't know how patient the rest of the audience can be.
  Also, I did like the brain surgery footage bits.  It's kind of gruesome but not enough to save the whole film for me.


  Wasn't crazy about this one and found it kind of dull.  The story is interesting but I think it's wasted on wandering around and searching on Miyuki.  There are some disturbing touches and the ending is interesting but I think it's too little, too late.  So, if you want to experiment with other films from the writer of "The Ring", then this may not be the place to start.


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Horrors of 2014: Housebound (2014)

Housebound (2014)
Director: Gerard Johnstone
Starring: Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, and Glen-Paul Waru
Running Time: 107 min

  I've been scanning a number of lists and this film keeps popping up.  This is the first feature film from writer/director Gerard Johnstone, who was one of the creators/writer/director/etc for the very funny New Zealand show "The Jaquie Brown Diaries", so it will be interesting to see how well he transitions from television to cinema and comedy to horror.../comedy. 

  After a very amusing botched job, attempting to rob an ATM machine, Kylie Bucknell is sentenced to house arrest and sent back home to her mother's.  She has to stay with her mom, Miriam and her mom's boyfriend, Graeme for the next 8 months.  Kylie is not impressed with this situation and shows her disdain to being there by acting like a petulant child and a thorn in everybody's side or bottoms. How fun.
  One night while listening to a talk show about ghosts on the radio, she recognizes her mother's voice talking about how she thinks there may be specters living in their house.  Kylie leaves the room to give her mom a hard time about the radio show but Miriam reminds her that she is not the only one, who believed that there were ghosts in the house and Kylie reminds her mom that she is not 12 years old anymore. 
  However, after a number of weird occurrences, like a talking toy bear attacking her, phones getting lost and a creepy hand grabbing her in the basement, she slowly starts believing that the house may indeed be haunted.  What puts her over is that she finds out that a teenage girl was murdered in her room and the case was never solved.  Is Kylie and her family being haunted by this teenage ghosty and is there any way that she can be convinced to break on through to the other side or is Kylie having a slow mental breakdown and it's just her imagination?


  This movie is incredible and I can see why it's on so many top lists.  It's smart, it's funny and best of all it's pretty scary.   Writer/ Director Gerard Johnstone takes elements from so many good movies from the past and fuses them into this roller coaster ride of laughs and genuine scares.  Did I just say roller coaster ride, fuck me.  This movie has so many good twists and change ups and it is good to see likeable characters that have motivation and seem real, which is a nice change to see.
  Morgana O'Reilly (Rebecca 2, We Feel Fine) is perfect in this as Kylie.  She doesn't even have to speak, but can convey her contempt for the system and her predicament with just a sneer.  She is a tough character, but is likeable and knows when she has gone to far and O'Reilly is able to put these emotions across really well.  My favourite character is Kylie's mom, Miriam, played by Rima Te Wiata (Send a Gorilla, Alex).  She is the perfect comic relief and has the most brilliant timing.  She nails the dotty, simple mom to a tee with just the right gestures and looks of disappointment and concern.  
  Also the music is perfect for the film.  Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper creates a stunning soundtrack to this film.  There is a part at the end that has similar look to a scene in "Hellraiser" and the music is very similar. It's a nice homage.


  The only issue that I had with the film is there is a bit at the end, which is a little confusing.  I don't want give anything away but I thought a character had died but he/she ends up being okay which I was surprised by, considering how they died or I thought they died.  That's the only part the threw me. 
  Other than that, I really enjoyed this film and after seeing it, there is nothing else Gerard Johnstone or the cast could have done to make it any better.


  This is an outstanding film and a must see for anyone, whether they love horror or not.  It has an amazing story with some great plot twists and turns, the acting is fantastic and it gets very scary.  So, if you looking for a great haunted house thriller or just a really great film, go see this! It's amazing!


 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Indie Horror: I Fall Down (2013)

I Fall Down (2013)
Director: Christopher White
Starring: Emma Houghton, Tom Antoni, and Tom Beddow
Running Time: 82 min

 I should really watch more of these independent horror movies and going forward, I'm going to try and review at least one a month.  This is film is from Edmonton and is currently hitting the festival circuit.

  A woman sneaks past some abortion activists and gets into the clinic.  When she sees the doctor, he tells her that she is too late and that he cannot legally abort the child.  She begs the doctor and he eventually agrees to perform the abortion after hours.  She comes back later in the night and he removes the fetus from her womb.  She thanks him and leaves but before the doctor can throw out the fetus, it makes some noise and the doctor has second thoughts about what he has done.
  A few years later, the doctor is gunned down behind the abortion clinic and his house goes up for sale.  Months go by but nobody wants to have anything to do with the doctors house, except for the parents of a little girl named Annessa, whose dad is on the way to the top in the business world and thinks that the house is a steal.  While doing the walk through, the realtor and Annessa's family are surprised to find a child's room furnished with the name Charlie painted on the floor.  The realtor didn't think the doctor had any children but it doesn't matter because Annessa's father is buying the house. Ha-zah!
  A few months/years go by and Annessa's dad is not doing so hot.  He's on the verge of getting fired, he's drinking, and his wife wants to leave him.  This sounds like an old country song.  Worst of all, he may be molesting little Annessa when he tucks her in at night.
  More years go by and it's now only drunk old dad, out of work and looking to get his loans extended and Annessa, who is in school with a bunch of shitty kids who hate her, except for one guy in her class that likes her, kinda of.  Anyway, her life's miserable and while wandering out behind her house she finds a run down, cobbled together shack and a really creepy dude who lives in it.  He calls himself Charlie and Annessa realizes that he must be the boy for the house.  Although he looks monstrous, Charlie is very gentle with Annessa and wants to run away with her from their shitty lives.  Will the friendship between Charlie & Annessa blossom and find a way to save them both or will this friendship turn into a nightmare that they will lead down a darker path?


  I liked this, it reminded me of a modern "Hunchback of Notre Dame" and to some degrees "Frankenstein".  The film has a lot of heart and Tom Antoni's portrayal of the character, Charlie is very touching at times.  It's not a romantic relationship that brings him and Emma Houghton, who plays Annessa together but a need for love and acceptance that is unconditional.  These are two misfits who have been dealt a crappy hand and when they find each other, it finally gives them some hope.  I think writer/director Christopher White does a very good job putting these emotions across on film.
  Also, I like the look of the film, it's shot beautifully on Super 16mm Black & White and it gives the picture a Lynchesque look to it, which is reminiscent to "Eraserhead at times.

 
  I think this is a great first film, the only thing I'd be more careful with is time (months/years/days) changes at the beginning.  There are a number of years that happen quickly at the beginning of the film and it's a little hard to follow the time line but once the film focuses on teenage Annessa, its full steam ahead.
  Also, I would have like to see a conclusion or confrontation about Annessa's child abuse issues.  It seems to slip into the background or is forgotten as the film moves ahead.  If this is one of the reasons that Annessa is the way she is, then it should have been addressed by the end of the film.


 Overall, this is a great first time feature by Christopher White and I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for this young director.  This a very moving modern Gothic story, it has some scenes that people will find disturbing and the film has a lot of heart.  If you get a chance, this is good film to check out.


Willl be playing at  the Censured in Canada Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario on Sunday, January 25th at 4:00 pm in the CineCycle Underground Cinema (129 Spadina Ave)

 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

J-Horror January: Zoom In: Sex Apartments (aka Zûmu in: Bôkô danchi) (1980)

Zoom In: Sex Apartments (aka Zûmu in: Bôkô danchi) (aka Zoom In: Rape Apartments)
(1980)
Director: Naosuke Kurosawa
Starring: Erina Miyai, Yôko Azusa, and Yûko Ôsaki
Running Time: 68 min

  I get a lot of weird stuff at work and originally when I was scanning through this title "Zoom In: Sex Apartments", I thought it was going to be your usual Japanese erotic soft core porn.  Boy was I wrong,  when I got to the part in the film where a man sets someone's genitals on fire, I thought dammmmn, and by the time the bizarre ending arrived I was totally sold into having to watch the whole thing.  So, I'm putting on my fire proof pants and checking out the Sex Apartments.

  Before Saeko's husband leaves on a business trip, he wants to get randy with her for good luck.  She obliges and lets him hump and grunt on her until he is satisfied and then he grabs his bags and waves goodbye!  Frustrated, she climbs on her bicycle and heads out to her friends place but on the way there, her bicycle gets hit with a rock, which knocks her off her bike.  A man comes over and using a what looks like an awl, forces her on the ground, blindfolds her and then rapes her.  When he is done, he leaves and after a few minutes, she gets back on her bicycle and continues to her friends apartment.
  When she arrives at her friends, no one is there but luckily she has a key, so she lets herself in.  After a few minutes, Sachi arrives home and is surprised to see her there.  Apparently, they had been lovers and Saeko left him without saying goodbye and only recently, had they seen each other again at the train station.  She thanks him for sending her a key in the mail, but she tells him that she must return it and she is happily married and then the have sex. I guess she will be keeping the key.
  That night, a school girl is on her way home from somewhere and she is attacked.  She is thrown on the ground and the attacker, who happens to have the same awl looking thing, stuffs a gasoline doused rag in the girls' genitals and then lights her on fire.  Sadly, this isn't the only attack like this in the area and over the next few days, there are a number of women being attacked and set on fire.
  During this time, Saeko discovers that Sachi is a piano tuner and he has a similar tool to the awl that the rapist/killer is using.  Could it be that she is in love with a sick killer or is this just a strange coincidence, he can't be the only piano tuner in town, right?


 This movie is totally messed up and is an incredibly violent pink film.  It is a cross between an explicit soft core porn and extremely violent horror film or an ero-gro, (erotic-grotesque) and reminds me a lot of "Entrails of Virign" which have a similar amount of sexuality/violence in the film.
 Considering the theme and the content, it's hard to say that this movie was fun but there is some extremely weird shit that goes on here that I think director Naosuke Kurosawa must have been using to lighten the tension.  At one point, a girl is peeing in a garbage dump area and she sees the killer trying to stuff a women into a furnace.  Instead of being terrified and running for help, she watches intrigued and starts eating the garbage around her. Wtf?  Also, the ending and epilogue are pretty messed up too.  The ending comes out of nowhere and is a little shocking and then epilogue goes from horrendously violent to a somewhat brilliant looking artistic nightmarish love scene. It's just really really bizarre.
  I should note that this film isn't like "I Spit On Your Grave", where a person or people are being raped constantly through out the film.  There is only on rape scene in the film, which is at the beginning with Saeko and the rest of the killer/rapist's victims are only shown being either being burned or the results of the burning after the bodies are found.  The majority of the sex scenes in the film are with the Saeko character having consensual sex with many, many people while her husband is away on a business trip. 


  The story starts off very interesting but as it progresses, it really goes downhill.  Director Naosuke Kurosawa sets up a very terrifying set of circumstances but like the rest of the audiences, he gets lost in the sex and forgets where he is going with the horror angle.  Characters show up out of nowhere and even the ending is somewhat confusing and it just seems to be tacked on because Kurosawa doesn't set up any of the outcomes in the beginning or in the middle of the film. 
  Also, there are some scenes that kind of make sense but are badly done.  Like the one with Sachi, who is getting in shit for not tuning the piano either fast enough or correctly.  A woman is humiliating him by yelling at him for his shoddy work.  This is suppose to be a scene where you might be getting reasons that Sachi could be the killer, but the whole scene is done with a wide shot and you can't really see the anger, frustration or rage that may or may not be on his face as he is being reamed out by this female character that we don't know if it's his boss, client or just a crazy lady who likes to yell at people for no reason.  The whole scene loses it's purpose when you don't know who the people are and the shot is so flat with one camera angle.


  This film is definitely not for everybody and there may be too much sex or excessive violence for some horror fans.  Also it lacks a cohesive plot line, that can seem ridiculous and weird, which then makes it humorous and silly at times.  However, there are some impressive visuals and some very bizarre twists and kills in this film, which makes it hard not to enjoy.  So, if you dig pink films and you're cool with seeing people being set on fire, then you should definitely check this out but if you don't think that's your bag, then you should avoid this film. 

Head up, this is an 18+ trailer, you've been warned humans.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

J-Horror January: Premonition (aka Yogen) (2004)

Premonition (aka Yogen) (2004)
Director: Norio Tsurutau
Starring: Hiroshi Mikami, Noriko Sakai, and  Maki Horikita
Running Time: 95 min
 
  Let's start off by saying this is not the Sandra Bullock movie.  So, I'm looking forward to seeing this because it is an adaptation of a manga comic by Jiro Tsunoda called the "Newspaper of Terror" which is such a rad name, I'm a little bit sad they didn't use as the title of the film.  Still, if they take the time to make a film about an evil newspaper then I feel I must watch it and I will predict that this is going to be a great film.

  Hideki Satomi, his wife Ayaki and their daughter Nana are driving back from a visit from their relatives and everyone is having fun but Hideki.  He is busy worrying about work and begs his wife to turn around, so they can drive back to a gas station and he can use a payphone to upload some paper work.  She does this but only on one condition that he has to sing along with them, which he grudgingly agrees to.
  When he gets to the payphone and his paperwork is being uploaded, he finds a piece of tattered newspaper in the phone booth and it has an obituary of his daughter, with her picture in it.  Confused, he leaves the phone booth in time to see a semi truck plow into his car.  Luckily his wife had just gotten out of the car to see him, but their daughter, Nana is still in the backseat, unable to escape because of a faulty car seat! The car is on fire and it then it explodes, killing Nana.  Hideki can't believe it and tries to tell his wife that the newspaper predicted it but she is too distraught over the loss of their child and thinks that he is crazy.  Also, he has lost the tattered piece of paper and cannot prove that there was any sort of premonition.
  Three years later, Hideki and Ayaki have divorced and are not speaking to each other.  Oddly enough, Ayaki is doing a study on psychics and comes across a woman, Satoko who not only knows about "The Newspaper of Terror" but she knows of somebody who disappeared trying to research it.  Meanwhile, Hideki is still working as a professor but he is having terrifying premonitions about the victims of a serial killer, who has been on a killing spree as of late.  After the news of the first murder from his premonition becomes true, he follows the next one but is too late to save the girl, however the murder is caught.
  After these new findings from her research and from the information for the psychic, Ayaki call Hideki to tell him about "The Newspaper of Terror" and they get together to discuss notes.  The decide to search out the friend of the psychic, Rei Kigata, who went missing after researching the evil paper and eventually find that his home is filled with a series of newspapers and tapes detailing his progress with his investigation of the evil newspaper and premonitions of people dying.  Apparently, if he let things go and allowed the murders or deaths to occur, the pain of knowing that he could of stopped it weighed on him so much that it began to drive him mad but if he did try to stop it and was able to save the victims of a killing then he was rewarded with a big black pus sore.  The more people he saves the more sores he gets and he eventually disappeared.  What will be the fate of Hideki and his premonitions, will he go mad like so many others with the regret of letting so many lives slip away or will he take on the sores and pains of these victims until he withers into oblivian?


  This was a really great film and the ending gets pretty crazy.  Not so much crazy violent, which I usually love, but into this weird reality shifting time thing that director Norio Tsurutau (Scarecrow, Ring 0: Birthday) keeps a good handle on it, allowing the ending to blossom into a very touching moment at the end of the film, while keeping it incredibly bleak and horrifying at the same time.
  I like the concept of the film, not just because the title is the "Newspaper of Terror" but the idea of being given a choice and still losing no matter what.  There is no explanation why these people are chosen, which is good because it doesn't matter and there isn't endless pontificating as too why.  What matters is that it's happening at the moment and the characters have to deal with it in the moment and the now, kind of. ;)
  Also, I was a little worried that this film would fall into the same troubles as most adapted manga films by trying to put too much into the film and have  the audience get lost in under developed characters or subplots that don't go anywhere but Tsurutau keeps it together and stays focus on the main aspects to the story, the relationship between Hideki and Ayaki, the loss of the their daughter and the premonitions.  There are times that the story starts pulling but he is able to pull the reigns in and keep everything straight and going forward. 


  There wasn't that many issues that I had with this film.  Like a lot of films I've been seeing lately, this is very strong psychological thrillers and although there isn't a lot of hacking and slashing in this, there are some very disturbing imagery and terrifying situations that hit right to the bone.  Hana Inoue, who played Nana the daughter, nailed it and that was one of the tenses scenes that I've seen from a child performer.  As well as the make up job for Rei Kigata character deteriorating as very good and creepy.
  Also this film is a little out there and weird, not like "Uzumaki" or even close to "Rubber" out there, but it's a very different kind of concept that some people may not dig, especially at the end with the time shifting realities.  That's okay, I know some people get confused and annoyed when this happens in films, so I'm just forewarning you or giving you that premonition vibe about these things. Damn it, now I have a black pus sore. :(
  On a side note, I'm really surprised that there was no sequel to this movie.  I think the concept is very strong and there is so much you can do with this idea.  More people with the same premonition issues and you could also do a whole back story to this.  I mean if they can make a second Paul Blart movie, then how does this not have a sequel.



  This was an awesome film with just the right amount of strange/scary mixture.  It has a very original story, some bizarre and twisted visuals and an ending that is very moving and may even touch any the coldest blackest heart of any horror fan.  So if you're looking for a weird film about newspapers that can predict the deaths of your friends and family, than this is it and it's ready for you to subscribe, baby!