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The Locker (2004)

DVD Cover (Geneon)
Movie Connections:
The Locker
> The Locker 2 (2004)
> The Locker (2004)
Genres:
Horror, Psychological Thriller, Supernatural Horror
Director:
Kei Horie Kei Horie
Starring:
Asami Mizukawa Asami Mizukawa
Shji Kashiwabara Shji Kashiwabara
Chisato Morishita Chisato Morishita
Mayuka Suzuki Mayuka Suzuki
Tomohisa Yuge Tomohisa Yuge

5.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: November 14, 2005
Seven teenagers go out for a camping trip, and as with all good camping trips, the highlight of the evening is telling ghost stories around a campfire. These teens - consisting of Fukami Ai (Suzuki Mayuka), Yanagi Akihiko (Wada Toshihiro), Yajima Reika (Mizukawa Asami), Miyano Ryouhei (Kashiwabara Shuuji), Matsukawa Yuuna (Morishita Chisato), Takahara Keitarou (Yuge Tomohisa), and Muramatsu Megumi (Hara Fumina) - get around to telling the story of the nearby statue, which one of them claims to be a guardian of the spirits of aborted fetuses. This prompts one of the guys in the group to break the head off of this statue in order to pull a cheap scare from his friends... yes, he desecrated this shrine, and we all know how well that goes over with the ghosts and spirits wandering the earth. A few members of the group hear some ghostly cries throughout the night, but it's quickly forgotten about and they return home the next day.

Upon returning home, Ai stops by a nearby locker to pick up some text-books that she had dropped off before the trip and this leads the group into telling another story. Supposedly, one of the girls says, if you make a wish into locker #0009 at Shibuya Station and leave a small present inside of it, that wish will come true. Of course they try it out, and they then head on back into their normal lives. They soon find out, however, that everything isn't exactly peaches and cream anymore... but is it because of the shrine desecration, the incident at the locker, or both? More importantly, how do they stop the apparent curse?

Thanks to the title of the movie, I think it's pretty obvious which of the above scenarios was the root of the problem. Therefore, I found the whole investigation aspect of the film to be pretty silly... I mean, if the statue was what caused all of this, wouldn't the film have been entitled "The Statue" instead? A better name for the movie would definitely have helped things here, or they should have at least skipped over these (admittedly brief, but still ten minutes too long) investigation scenes. I'd have even been content had the statue had some relevancy to the ongoing film, but alas, it was just a red herring. Sorry for the spoilers, but the fact that so much time was spent on this subject when it's blatantly obvious that the locker is responsible kind of irked me.

One other thing that I noticed about this movie is that it was heavily, uh, "inspired" by some of the more popular Japanese horror films. Yes, this film borrows liberally from Ringu, Dark Water, and Ju-On: The Grudge. Actually, I take that back... "borrow" may be too lenient in regards to certain parts of the film as entire scenes and ideas are stolen here and there. For example, I point you to Sacchan (Sakon Kasumi), the ghostly little girl that is responsible for everything (she's on the DVD cover, so I don't really consider that to be a spoiler). No, I'm not talking about the fact that we have a long-haired little girl in the lead antagonist role; sure, it's been done a lot, but this idea is pretty ingrained into Japanese culture, so I can overlook that. What I can't overlook, however, is the way that this character is such a blatant rip-off of Ringu's Sadako. She crawls around the same way, she has the exact same look, and they even use the same stop-motion technique to make her movements look even more creepy. There's other scenes that you'll recognize if you've seen the aforementioned three movies, but I'll leave it at that.

After the last two paragraphs, I bet that you, dear reader, are expecting me to wrap this review up with an "Avoid" tag, aren't you? Well, it's not quite that easy. The movie does have its flaws, but it is by no means a horrible film. There's a lot of really neat ideas here: the revelation behind Sacchan's character is great, albeit a bit unrealistic, and there's some genuinely creepy scenes to be found. It's pretty obvious that Kei Horie had some great ideas for this film and knows how to set a scene up, but it would have been nice if he had stuck to his own ideas instead of borrowing so heavily from other films. With the exception of the statue thing and some minor plot-holes which can easily be overlooked, the storyline is pretty solid and will leave J-Horror fans satisfied.

Check it out. I've heard that the sequel is actually the best of the two films, but I personally can not vouch for that as of this writing. Even if it is, however, the original is still a worthy seventy minutes for fans of Japanese horror, and besides, both films are on the same disc if you pick up Geneon's American DVD release. 7/10.
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