Friday, April 3, 2009

Noroi (2005; Koji Shiraishi)

I can now officially say that Koji Shiraishi is a director whose body of works completely confounds me. He is the director of Kuchisake-Onna (Carved) which was an awfully mediocre underachievement of generic asian cinema. Also, while never having seen it, Ju-Rei was a film that was torn apart by critics (not that they matter too much) for being exactly what I described Carved as.

Out of the blue, Noroi. A film so scary I actually looked away. As embarrasing as that may sound, true horror/gore hounds such as myself live for events such as this. The thrill of being scared, even if only for a few moments, makes it all worth while. However, when a movie such as Noroi comes around, dealing those thrills out in spades, it can bring most people to their knees (or just have them look away like I had to). Our main man is a paranormal investigator who is currently looking into a curse and the connections between the people it is having an effect upon.

(Don't worry, I went back and watched the scene again so I didn't miss anything.)

So do you see my confusion with Shiraishi now? On one hand he is scraping the bottom of the J-horror bucket looking for any long haired actresses that might be left over, and then on the other he is making possibly the scariest mockumentary that exists to this day. It has also come to my attention that his newest work might actually be yet another peak in his career so I will be waiting impatiently with both eyes wide open (mostly because Noroi has made me too scared to close them).

Right, onto the movie... Well, as usual with mockumentaries, there is only so much that can be said. So much of the success relies upon powerful acting and storytelling, which this film is drowning in, and once they obtain those aspects they are well on their way to being a diamond in the rough. All the performances in this film are top of the line (with a special nod to Mitsuo Hori with a mind blowing performance as an eccentric "super psychic").

As far as storytelling, Shiraishi took great care to craft an intricate backstory to go along with the "current" events to tie it all together. This leads to a world that feels very much real, which in return only draws us, the viewers, into the curse that much deeper. The development of the backstory reminds me very much of another high class mockumentary film (Blair Witch) that uses it as a method to make the material that much more real. We suddenly question whether or not these films are actually mockumentaries.

There is a score used here, but it is very scarce. It is simply sprinkled in to make the experience that much more horrifying.

To quote a critic who is much more popular than I...

"So in summary: if you don't crap yourself by the end of Noroi, then chances are that you're dead inside and no amount of horror movies will ever scare you."

Score: 4.5/5

Notes: Score is subject to change. I felt such an urgency to get the word out about this film that I haven't given myself time to watch it a second time yet.

P.S. The quote can be found here...

P.P.S. Shiraishi's newest film is named Grotesque, and is a very intriguing looking torture porn.

1 comment:

AnĂ³nimo said...

Totally loved this movie. It´s rather unknown even in Japan, but I think it deserves a place amongst the best. Im a truly horror movie lover too, and I recognize a good one when it makes me cry (as embarrasing as it may sound).. and this one did the trick. The story of the movie is absolutely awesome. Paranormal investigator, ghosts, uncomprehensible powers, dark rituals, sects, ancient evil gods, conspiracy, kidnapping, assasinations, and it even tries to make you think it was real!
Out of this world, really.
The worst thing is that the producer didnt have more faith on this movie and spend some more money. I could have been the greatest.