The Booth (2005)

DVD Cover (Tartan Video)
Genres: Horror, Supernatural Horror
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Yoshihiro Nakamura Yoshihiro Nakamura
Maiko Asano Maiko Asano
Makoto Ashikawa Makoto Ashikawa
Mansaku Ikeuchi Mansaku Ikeuchi
Seiko Iwaidō Seiko Iwaidō
Hijiri Kojima Hijiri Kojima

6.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: June 04, 2006
When it comes to Japanese horror, there's a couple of things that one usually expects to find; you're either going to get a ghost story revolving around a long-haired little girl, or you're going to get a confusing plot that takes hours to figure out. While there have been a lot of gems to come from both sides of the spectrum and there's certainly been movies that have broke free of both stigmas, that sadly seems to be how the majority of the recent J-Horror films have turned out. The Booth changes all of that; here, we have an intelligent (but easy to follow) horror film that doesn't involve any long-haired little girls, and - surprise! - it's a damned good film.

It all begins with a history lesson on booth number six, a booth that a popular radio DJ once hosted his show from. I'll spare you the spoilers, but needless to say, we quickly find out that there is some paranormal activity at work here. We then fast-forward to present time, where we learn that Shogo (Ryuta Sato), the popular host of a romance talk-show, is forced to broadcast from the infamous booth due to some renovations going on in his normal broadcast station. Tonight's show happens to center around "Hurtful Words" that lovers have spoken to one another, and everything seems to be going fine... that is, however, until a caller is interrupted by an ominous voice that simply utters the word "liar" at Shogo. The line is then filled with static for a few moments, we hear some creepy sounds, and then everything is back to normal. Shaken, Shogo has no idea what is going on... but as the night progresses and the calls keep coming, everything starts to fall into place for this radio host who definitely has a couple of skeletons in his closet.

It's a simple concept, sure; save for a few flashbacks that fill in the man's history for the benefit of the home audience, the entire movie takes place inside this old broadcasting booth. Again, save for a couple of flashbacks and some minor characters, the entire movie revolves around one man and the story is told almost entirely by watching the man take calls from various love-scorned listeners while personally identifying with their problems. However, thanks to the talented eye of director Yoshihiro Nakamura and the extremely chilling scares, the concept works out beautifully. Instead of watching this movie as an audience, we watch the movie through the eyes of the lead character; when he starts to get paranoid and worried about something, we see why he's feeling that way and start to get the same feeling that he does. I've seen a lot of Japanese horror (a fact that regular readers of this site can attest to), and I'll go on record as saying this one ranks in my top five films from the far east.

This is not one of those films where you'll see the ending coming, either. After Shogo takes a couple of calls, we start to put the pieces together on his history and start to think that we know what's going on and how the film will end. However, that is not the case: after a shocking twist, the movie moves into an entirely different direction, and just when it starts to look like the whole evening was a big misunderstanding... the real horror begins. I'm extremely tempted to point out some of the things that happened just to give you readers a taste of the wonder that was this storyline, but revealing any more than what I did in the synopsis would spoil the movie - and that would be a crime in this particular review.

There's not a whole lot more that I can say about this movie without spoiling it too much, and as mentioned, that is something that I definitely don't want to do with this one. The Booth is one of those rare, perfect films that will top both my "Best of 2006" list as well as my "Best (Japanese) Horror" list; yes, it's that damned good. It's also a perfect film for both the newcomer to Asian horror as well as those more experienced with their style. A fair chunk of Asian horror requires some understanding of their culture to fully appreciate, but if you've never watched any of them, this would be a perfect place to start thanks to the engaging and easy to follow storyline. A masterpiece that should not be missed by horror fans. 10/10.
Christopher #1: Christopher - added 10/26/2006, 05:13 PM
Ninety percent of this film revolved around a guy hearing creepy noises over the phone in a booth. Oh no, it's a rusty gate! Oh no, it's really a rooster! Oh no, it's really a swing set! Who cares what he's hearing!? Once he finally has his little fight with "his" broad, it looks like the movie is finally going to pick up the pace and begin to get interesting. But then it's back in the freaking booth! The title of the film fits the movie perfectly, which is certainly not a good thing. The more films Asia Extreme releases, the fewer good ones remain in their collection.
ThunderStruck5a #2: ThunderStruck5a - added 07/19/2007, 09:55 AM
the one part at the end gave me the heeby jeebys which i dont usually expirence anymore
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