Posts Tagged ‘Takashi Shimizu’



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.









A new feature film of the TALES OF TERROR (SHIN MIMI BUKURO) series has just been announced for release on July 1st when it will have its world premiere in L.A. The horror flick is trying really hard to tell us that the movie will have a real-life effect on everyone watching it (RING, anyone?). We might even die a horrible death if NOT watching its trailers (now that’s original, isn’t it?).

KAI-KI is based on the Japanese TV franchise TALES OF TERROR and is the third installment for the cinema, was written by Ryuta Miyake and is directed by Makoto Shinozaki (and not Takashi Shimizu or Norio Tsuruta as reported elsewhere). Starring J-Pop’s Number 1 Idol, Hello! Project singing sensation Erina Mano.




JAPAN 2009  Directed by: Takashi Shimizu Written by: Daisuke Hosaka Produced by: Dai Miyazaki, Satoru Ogura, Masayuki Tanishima Cast: Yuya Yagira, Ai Maeda, Suzuki Matsuo, Ryo Katsuji, Shoichiro Masumoto, Misako Renbutsu, Erina Mizuno

THE SHOCK LABYRINTH 3D isn’t exactly known for its great 3D visuals but rather for being ignored by most audiences so far (its very limited release seems to be a chicken-or-egg question). How come, you might wonder, as SHOCK LABYRINTH is helmed by the man himself, JU-ON’s and THE GRUDGE’s Takashi Shimizu.

A group of teenagers is surprised and shocked when a long-lost friend suddenly returns after more than a decade. But very soon she falls ill and they have to take her to a hospital that turns out to be a trap, a haunted house that is a shock labyrinth. A cat and mouse game begins triggering the teenager’s memories of their childhood friendship and the things that happened in the past.

I must admit that I have never been an admirer of Shimizu’s work as I believe that what he has done others have done long before him, and mostly better. For pure shocks Shimizu has never matched Hideo Nakata’s films, for depth and IQ never even come close to Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Maybe Shimizu and the way he approaches what is commonly known as J-Horror are part of the problem and the reason the once popular export has become largely extinct.

In the late 90’s J-Horror became famous mostly for its relentless shock and awe, combined with a visual language western audiences found fresh and exotic as well as initially some very good ideas as far as storytelling goes. These movies were really scary, a brilliant example of psychological and not physical horror that most of their western counterparts resorted to. But very soon epigones and imitators too over and started to cannibalize the genre by exploiting its motifs and repeating the same formula over and over, with substance and quality of ideas decreasing until there was little more left than a bunch of scenes that were supposed to make your adrenaline rush. They failed to do so after a while.

What made J-Horror interesting, different and effective in the beginning very soon became a routine, a formulaic way of filmmaking, and with no new stories in sight and the same old shocks wearing off there was simply no reason to watch J-Horror anymore, let alone that more and more original J-Horror movies were remade by Hollywood eroding the unique position of horror made in Japan further. J-Horror had sold out, and most kids watching the American remakes wouldn’t have even noticed that these films were not genuine American horror movies. For the mass audience, Hollywood had absorbed J-Horror completely.

Without new ideas J-Horror also lost on the festival circuit as especially horror movie buffs were quickly getting used to the same old tricks. Girls with long black hair anyone? The decline was inevitable and I was not surprised that Kurosawa for instance has left the genre (even he never actually was part of the J-Horror wave).

THE SHOCK LABYRINTH 3D illustrates why J-Horror is flatlining. It’s a tragic example of Murphy’s law. It starts with a truly idiotic idea: who on earth would make a movie inspired by the Labyrinth of Horrors attraction at Fuji-Q High Land amusement park? What “idea” is that in the first place? How do you pitch something like this to a film studio? How do you sell it to distributors and audiences? Why in god’s name did Fortissimo films pick up the rights for this?

So THE SHOCK LABYRINTH 3D starts out with no idea at all. Then a ridiculous script comes into play, untalented teenage actors, a rushed production and a low budget. Add to that a direction that has no signature at all, editing that is less than impressive, and truly horrible music. Plus a location that is anything but a labyrinth.

If the aforementioned girls with long hair, if twisting heads, blackened eyes, people vanishing in the dark, X-ray like visuals or stuffed white rabbits make you scream then THE SHOCK LABYRINTH 3D is for you. But then you’re also probably 10 years old, have an evil older sister and have not been exposed to any other horror than the stories of the Brothers Grimm. Can’t blame you.

THE SHOCK LABYRINTH 3D is a grave disappointment, its shabby, shoddy and so unbearably talkative you wish you could kill the actors with your own hands. I take great comfort in the thought that this movie was made to rip us off and not to inject new life into the genre. So there’s still a possibility someone will bring J-Horror back from the dead.

But don’t expect it’s SHOCK LABYRINTH. Beware. Abandon hope all ye who enter THE SHOCK LABYRINTH 3D.