(director/writer: Takashi Shimizu; screenwriter: Masaki Adachi; cinematographer: Takahide Shibanushi; editor: Nobuyuki Takahashi; music: Kenji Kawai; cast: Kippei Shiina (Ikuo Matsumara), Yûka (Nagisa Sugiura/Chisato), Karina (Yayoi Kinoshita), Tetta Sugimoto (Tadashi Murakawa, desk clerk), Marika Matsumoto (Yuka Morita), Mantaro Koichi (Yamanaka Producer), Atsushi Haruta(Norihasa Omori ), Miki Sanjo (Ayumi Omori), Shun Oguri(Kazuya Omori), Mao Sasaki (Chisato), Kiyoshi Kurosawa (College lecturer); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Takashige Ichise; Lionsgate; 2005-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)
“Takes too many liberties with the meaning of reincarnation–making it into a gross literal reality.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Advertised as one of the 8 films to die for, this stylized psychological J-Horror film directed by Takashi Shimizu (“The Grudge”/”Ju-On“/”Marebito”)is grounded in its interpretation of reincarnation and is based on a true killing spree in 1970 that had 11 victims plus the suicide of the assailant. It has the requisite scares for the genre, but the film co-written by Shimizu and Masaki Adachi never reaches the great heights claimed through its promotional schemes nor the promise of its interesting premise nor is it a groundbreaking horror pic. Though well-executed and photographed, it’s too talky, too unpleasant, too slow moving, too implausible and takes too many liberties with the meaning of reincarnation–making it into a gross literal reality. Trying to be another Kubrick ghost story type of pic (its crime scene haunted hotel room is the same room 237 as in The Shining), its ghost story pretends at some great relevance and gravitas but never gets past being only moderate entertainment.
35 years after Professor Omori, obsessed with thinking of the human body as a vessel for reincarnation, inexplicably butchered his 6-year-old daughter Chisato and adolescent son Norihasa and 9 of the hotel guests and workers at the Ono Kanko Hotel just outside of Tokyo, popular horror filmmaker Ikuo Matsumara (Kippei Shiina) and his crew prepare to make a movie that accurately enacts the murders.The director boldly tells us his reason for making such a vulgar film is to put the restless spirits of the vics at peace. The starring role of the 6-year-old daughter, who died in room 237 clutching her doll, is played by the intense college student studying acting Nagisa Sugiura (Yûka). Ever since she was a child Nagisa dreamed about the hotel and was haunted by the ghostly figure of a little girl clutching her doll and the crazed professor filming the murders on his camera. When filming takes place in the abandoned hotel of the crime scene, the production is haunted as the cast begins having nightmares of the gruesome killings and start undergoing the same fate of the previous vics.Meanwhile Nagisa locates the camera the professor used in her dreams, and that insane death experience happens again to the cast as its recorded on the movie camera.I guess the filmmaker is trying to tell us that the reality of movies might not be that different from real-life realities.
REVIEWED ON 10/12/2012 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/