(Takashi Shimizu, Japan, 2004)
Made on digital video in eight days, Grudge director Takashi Shimizu made this between finishing the Japanese original and starting on the American remake. It's far better than both, but still short of a complete success.
Lead character Masuoka (played by Tetsuo director Shinya Tsukamoto) is a solitary video obsessive, a freelance news cameraman, who happens to film a man stabbing himself in the eye in a tube station. The man is terrified of something he saw down in the tunnels. Masuoka becomes obsessed by the footage, replaying it over and over, looking for the fear in the man's eyes. He finally goes in search of the terror that lurks below, and finds a giant deserted underground cave. He there rescues a naked woman who can't speak, and who has been chained up. He takes her back to his flat, but soon finds that there's a reason she was chained…
Marebito starts as a study of a man's obsession with video technology, but once it moves underground, becomes increasingly nightmarish and fantastical. H.P. Lovecraft would seem to be the obvious influence, along with Clive Barker's Hellraiser, as the hero is obliged to find victims to sustain his new companion.
The idea of a dream world under the streets is alternately both convincing and unlikely. The underground cave looks very dodgy, but somehow the idea carries enough force to make this irrelevant. Brilliant in parts, but also sometimes aimless, Marebito most resembles Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face, another mix of dream and graphic horror that only fitfully manages to successfully visualise its ideas, but when it does, does so with great force. 7/10
Without a Face
Ju-On: The Grudge
A-Z of Film Reviews