Tuesday, 6 January 2015

J-Horror January: Marebito (2004)

Marebito (2004)
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Starring: Shin'ya Tsukamoto, Tomomi Miyashita, and Kazuhiro Nakahara
Running Time: 92 min

  This is a film from director, Takashi Shimizu, who created one of the films that brought J-Horror to the forefront with the Ju-on: The Grudge.  Like most people, I was really impressed with that film but unfortunately I haven't had a chance to see any of Shimizu's non-Grudge related work.  I hope that it's just as impressive as Ju-on was.

  Freelance cameraman, Masuoka has become obsessed with the idea of fear after watching a video of man kill himself in the subway tunnels, by stabbing himself in the eye.  Masuoka carries a video camera with him everywhere to capture the same kind of fear again if he can, as well as having his apartment set up for continuous video recording.  He does this because he starts experimenting by torturing people to capture that fear but never finds anything quite as satisfying as the man dying in the tunnels.
  Not deterred by this, he returns to subway line where the man killed himself and goes deep into the tunnel systems to discover a labyrinth of even deeper underground tunnels from the second World War.  There, he is warned by a homeless man to watch out for creatures called the Deros, which are "detrimental robots" and Masuoka continues to go deeper in the tunnels.
  While on his journey he discovers the ghost of the man who killed himself and learns more about this mysterious underworld.  After further traveling, he finds the "Mountains of Madness" and in a small cave he finds a naked girl chained up inside.  The girl seems to be mute and in distress, so he unchains her, brings her back to civilization and calls her F.  Not sure what kind of creature F is for sure, he chains her up in his apartment and tries to feed her but she refuses any conventional food.  Masuoka begins to see a mysterious man hanging around and getting strange phone calls about F in the middle of the night about her not being right for this world.
  Eventually, Masuoka discovers that F feeds on blood, of course, and he must find ways of keeping up with her large appetite.  He starts killing people to feed her, even the one woman who claims to be his wife and wants to know where their daughter is.  Masuoka starts to questions himself and his sanity but still is determined to find the fear.  Will Masuoka ever find what he's looking for or is he lost in the demented world instead his own head?

  This is a pretty weird film but very enjoyable.  There is a Lovecraft feel about this film all the way through the picture.  I like how director Takashi Shimizu (Tormented, Tomie: Re-birth) has the Masuoka character narrate the movie as he going along, it's like reading a Lovecraft story.  Also all the tunnels stuff and of course the obvious when he reaches the Mountains of Madness, deep underground, it sends a very nice shiver down your spine.
  Also, I liked Shin'ya Tsukamoto's (Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Nightmare Detective) portrayal of the Masuoka.  Although the characters sanity begins to unravel, he keeps the character even, consistent and focused on the task, which is finding fear.   
  Finally, I like how Shimizu incorporates Masuoka's camera footage in the story.  It seems to allow Masuoka to see another plain of existence at times and unmasks people in our world, which I thought was interesting way of including hand held footage. 

  To be honest, the film is a little slow and it seems to meander a bit here and there.  There is a good mixture of handheld stuff and film but sometimes Shimizu sits on the handheld stuff for far to long for my liking.  It's still good and it creates atmosphere but I just wish the story moved a little quicker. 
  There is some gore, not a lot but there is some.  It's more a psychological horror and is focused on the Masuoka's sanity, how it is changing and if it has the ability to come back.  There are some interesting violent scenes but it's mostly the F character devouring the blood from Masuoka latest kill, which is done off camera.

  Overall this is good film and fans of Lovecraft will enjoy some of the themes.   There is a good story, an amazing atmosphere and Shin'ya Tsukamoto does an amazing job as Masuoka.  So, if your looking for a good story about insanity and facing fear, this may be crazy enough for you.

1 comment:

  1. I just got really excited to watch this reading your review but I just did some poking around and I think I may have seen it already. But maybe since I don't remember whether I did or not I should watch it again!