JAPAN 2010 Directed by: Hideo Nakata Written by: Satoshi Suzuki Novel by: Honobu Yonezawa Cinematography by: Junichiro Hayashi Editing by: Nobuyuki Takahashi Music by: Kenji Kawai Cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Haruka Ayase, Aya Hirayama, Shinji Takeda, Satomi Ishihara, Tsuyoshi Abe, Nagisa Katahira, Kinya Kitaoji, Yuki Himura, Daisuke Kikuta, Yuki Furukawa, Takuro Ohno
Ten people are promised a dream job that pays them 1,200 US$ per hour. All they need to do is join an experiment and stay in a remote underground facility for 7 days – and survive. Because as soon as they arrive a murderous game begins and the facility turns into a true paranoid house where everyone distrusts everyone else – who will make it out alive and rake in the big bucks?
If that all sounds pretty familiar to you, you probably have watched KAIJI, LIAR GAME, DEATH TUBE or the mother of all death game movies, BATTLE ROYALE, before (and if you have ever seen the brilliant CLUE with Tim Curry, you will notice how much the detective plot in THE INCITE MILL reminds of its dramaturgy). THE INCITE MILL is a movie that not only comes surprisingly late, but is also surprisingly unspectacular: with a story so hackneyed you should expect Mr. Nakata to step up the game, or at least add his own touch of horror to the film. But neither is the case with THE INCITE MILL: instead of a top-notch fright fest we are confronted with a movie that is listless and astonishingly mediocre by comparison.
Now the question is if we should be surprised really. After Takashi Shimizu’s flop THE SHOCK LABYRINTH 3D also the former master of Japanese terror cinema presents a lackluster update of his original work (choosing a similar visual mood and tone as seen in SHOCK LABYRINTH, by the way). When Mr. Nakata shocked the world with THE RING many believed he was the apostle of a new wave of horror cinema, when in fact he largely profited from the fact that western horror was de facto inexistent at that time. The genre had worn itself out, and audiences worldwide were waiting for a fresh impetus that would revive the comatose patient.
More than anything THE RING marked the return to real horror (no Mr. Raimi, despite that marketing tagline DRAG ME TO HELL did not), scaring the living hell out of us with virtually nothing. It’s all in the mind; and that’s what true horror has probably always been about. But what fans and critics shouldn’t have attributed to Mr. Nakata is great filmmaking: with every subsequent work he (just like fellow filmmaker Mr. Shimizu) stuck to the formula that never was a formula in the first place, but fortune that favored the bold (or maybe just plain luck); or, he began to make movies that were anything but interesting, or genuine. Just right now he is doing it again: THE INCITE MILL and CHATROOM are like twins, and they both add nothing to what other filmmakers have done years ago and better.
THE INCITE MILL is a low-budget flick, a commodity that looks like a commodity, a classic detective story that tries to fit into the world of online broadcasts and vicious games run by voices from the off and scary puppets. For a detective story, it is simply too predictable, for a terror movie not scary enough, and for a slasher the violence is too harmless. We have all noticed that THE INCITE MILL is the 50th anniversary project commenced by Horipro (all actors are contracted by Horipro), however that does not excuse being too late with a subject like this, and doing too little to make up for it.
With grand gestures that have no meaning and an increasingly confusing plot the movie gambles away the least bit of its credibility towards the end. THE INCITE MILL is not exceptionally boring, but far from being exceptional. As a matter of fact, it remains below any standard from beginning to end. Seems like those who once resurrected the horror genre are now burying it once again.
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