My vote: Keep Takashi Shimizu away from America. He’s a genius with an eye for original horror. One of his new movies from Japan, ‘Marebito,’ is the first of its kind, showing that big budgets and stupid producers (ahem Sam Raimi) don’t make a movie good. After the US ‘The Grudge,’ I thought I had lost one of my favorite directors to the dark side for good, but his new film ‘Marebito’ shows that his mind has always been in the right place. How is this proof? He shot this film in just eight days, between the production dates for ‘Ju-on: The Grudge’ and its US remake, ‘The Grudge’- and it’s better than both.
A freelance cameraman name Masuoka (Shinya Tsukamoto) becomes obsessed with “fear” after he catches a suicide on camera. As he watched the suicide over and over again, he can’t help but desire to experience the feelings the man who dies was feeling. After multiple viewing, he notices something- the man who killed himself is looking at something, he is scared shitless. Masuoko decides to investigate the subway in Toyko where the incident took place and see if he can find what this man saw.
As he searches the subway he uncovers the truth about an urban legend and finds what could be one of the many “gateways to hell.” As he explores this new terrain he comes across a girl chained by her ankle and barely alive sitting in the side of one of the mystical mountains- he decides to bring her back to his world. She can’t walk, can’t talk and has disgusting sharp yellow teeth. She doesn’t eat and sleeps all day- she is dying in his world. After an accident he discovers that the only thing she eats is blood, which takes the movie into unprecedented territory.
‘Marebito’ is an adventure into terror that dwells on your deepest fears. One joke in the horror circle is that the words “Hell” and “Satan” equal instant cheese. Just think about the images that just blasted through your brain- cheese. It’s rare when the underworld gets tackled in a movie and you can take it seriously (Devil’s Advocate). Well ‘Marebito’ has joined the group of elites as this is one of the most realistic depictions of hell I’ve ever seen. Not that I’ve ever been there, but the way Takashi Shimizu envisions hell in this movie is desolate, silent, empty and supernaturally lit. There is no fire, no darkness, and no skin tight red suits- only emotions that are evoked through the creepiness of the irregular situation.
Although the movie is filled with grainy depictions from Masuoka’s camera that he carries with him at all times and loads of weird dialogue, ‘Marebito’ is easily one of the most eerie, twisted, unsettling and original horror movies in recent history. It’s weird how not much can happen and yet you can still be so incredibly captivated by a film. Takashi Shimizu is an expert in horror, a true genius who knows how to bring out emotions in his viewers. He knows that big budgets and giving the “answers” to his movies only brings it down- I’m willing to bet all my frozen pizzas that he was sadly disappointed with what he had to do with ‘The Grudge,’ because his true ingeniousness is displayed in ‘Marebito, which you will be able to see sometime in 2005 thanks to Tartan Films US.