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Marebito (2004)

DVD Cover (Tartan Video)
Genres:
Horror, Supernatural Horror
Director:
Takashi Shimizu Takashi Shimizu
Starring:
Shin'ya Tsukamoto Shin'ya Tsukamoto
Tomomi Miyashita Tomomi Miyashita
Kazuhiro Nakahara Kazuhiro Nakahara
Miho Ninagawa Miho Ninagawa
Shun Sugata Shun Sugata

6.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: June 15, 2006
When you see horrifying things such as ghosts or demons, you feel a sense of terror; that much is a given. However, what if it was actually the other way around: what if you could only see these otherworldly things when you were in a state of extreme terror? That is part of the concept from tonight's strange little film.

It all begins with an introduction to our leading man Masuoka (Shinya Tsukamoto), who we quickly learn is obsessed with technology (video cameras in particular) and who longs to feel true terror for reasons that will be revealed in due time. When he happens upon a man in a subway who, in a seemingly terrified state of being, pulls out a knife and stabs himself in the eye, Masuoka longs to know what it was that terrified this man so much that he felt compelled to kill himself. He does some investigating into the events that he witnessed, and through a rather odd revelation, he learns about a city hidden underneath his hometown of Tokyo. This revelation also alludes to the fact that true terror awaits him in this city, so he sets out to find it.

We wouldn't have a movie if he didn't find this hidden city, and he finds three rather bizarre things when he arrives there. The first thing that he discovers is that the man who seemingly killed himself in the subway is alive and well here, and he serves as Masuoka's guide throughout this underground dwelling. The second discovery comes in the form of a revelation made to him by his newfound guide: there are creatures living down here known as deros, and stumbling across one of them would not make for a very good day. The final event to take place down here is when Masuoka discovers a nude woman chained to a cave wall. When he checks to see if this lady is alright, he finds that she has huge fangs in her mouth not unlike a vampire, and she seems to be almost animal-like in nature. Masuoka decides to take this lady back to his apartment, and he dubs her with the simple name of F (Tomomi Miyashita).

Masuoka's first impression of this lady, that she is animal-like in nature, is quickly confirmed as he spends more and more time with her. She can not speak or make any type of noise whatsoever, and she sleeps for all but two or three hours of the day. She also refuses to eat or drink anything that Masuoka tries to give her, and this fact leads to her eventually getting sick and on the brink of death. However, when Masuoka returns home with a cut finger one day, F hones in on the scent of his blood and licks it up like a kitten would a bowl of milk. Realizing that blood is what she needs to survive, Masuoka sets out to feed what he considers to be his newfound "pet"... however, at this point in the film, he isn't aware of what F truly is, and he may not even be aware of what is real and what is not.

Revealing any more about the storyline would spoil things too much, but leaving it at that would make this movie seem to be something that it's not. This is not a straight-forward horror film, nor is it completely focused on vampires, demons, or any other sort of monster. The main focus of the film is Masuoka, his search for the ultimate in terror, and his eventual downfall as he gets closer and closer to finding that which he is looking for. Think of this film as the result of David Lynch teaming up with H.P. Lovecraft to put together one extremely bizarre mindfuck of an experience in the Asian style of cinema.

The style of this movie, that being the surrealist film where nothing is as it seems, will be a hit or miss depending on the viewer. I personally enjoyed it for the most part, although there were a few scenes that seemed to drag on for just a bit too long. I'm all for developing the storyline and showing the details of how it unravels, but there's only so much that we need to see of Masuoka walking down steps or staring into a computer monitor. That's another thing that will either be a hit or miss depending on the viewer; Masuoka is obsessed with video cameras, and has a habit of recording damned near everything that he comes into contact with. The result of this is that most of the film is shown through his video camera, and while it's not quite the shaky-cam style that was The Blair Witch Project, it may test your patience after a while.

Overall, this one is a pretty good movie that comes recommended by yours truly, but only for those of you who enjoy these mindfuck style of films. If you're looking for a pure horror film or if you're expecting a lot of bloodshed at the hands of the vampire'ish leading lady, this would probably be one to pass on. 7/10.
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Ginose #1: Ginose - added 02/19/2007, 10:39 PM
Wow. Japanese Lovecraft tales. Holy shit. This is his best work since the "Ju-On" films... though not quite as scary... still to fuckin' awesome. 9.9/10
Greg Follender #2: Greg Follender - added 09/10/2008, 04:19 PM
I really dug how the whole thing is a kind of visual riddle... the story shown doesn't exactly pan out to be the real tale.
A fresh perspective on an old Lovecraft riff... very nice.

I give it a solid 8.5/10... reflecting only slight point reductions for technical and pacing missteps.
A good little gem of a horror film.
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