By Sam Reeve
My rating: 6/10
Some of you may remember that last October was Japanese Horror Month. I saw a lot of great films, but the one that scared me the most and has stayed on my mind was Koji Shiraishi’s No-roi (The Curse). Today I bring you Occult, a “found footage” mockumentary by the same director.
Koji plays “himself” in the film, and is making a documentary about an incident at a seaside resort where a man stabbed two people to death and carved strange symbols onto the back of another. The film floats out to stranger tides when the crew uncover weird, supernatural elements that link several players in this tale. Eventually the focus is solely on the surviving victim, a man in his 30’s who stays in cafes overnight and can’t hold down a job. Since the attack he’s been seeing supernatural “miracles”, as he calls them, and the filmmakers continue to find more bizarre, creepy clues.
Made with a handheld camera, the film had low quality visuals at times. The “miracles” witnessed were often these weird ghost/alien things that floated around in the sky, and they resembled blurry jellyfishes drawn in MS Paint (see above). The acting on the other hand was always good, and Shiraishi really knows how to concoct some disturbing scenes. Unlike most “shaky cam” movies, Shiraishi’s never annoy me. The acting is great enough that it doesn’t ruin the suspended disbelief in the way so many other mockumentaries do (I’m looking at you, Paranormal Activity).
I do recommend at least one viewing of Occult, though I can speak more highly of No-roi. I couldn’t find a clip or trailer that included English subs, but below you’ll find the full movie. If you’ve seen it, let us know what you think in the comments below!
By Sam Reeve
Halfway through Japanese Horror Month, and thank goodness, because I got my obsession with Japan out of my system about a week ago. Lordy lordy…
Today’s featured film is Noroi (The Curse), directed by Koji Shiraishi. It’s a “found footage” film that reminded me a lot of The Poughkeepsie Tapes, so if you enjoyed that style, you’ll dig this too.
Noroi starts off with a narrator telling us about Mr. Kobayashi, a documentary filmmaker who follows stories of paranormal activity. The narrator tells us that Mr. Kobayashi has finished making a documentary called Noroi, but that several days after its completion his house was burnt down. His wife’s body was found inside, but Mr. Kobayashi himself was missing.
The “found footage” part of it that consisted of Mr. Kobayashi’s own film starts with him helping a woman who hears terrible noises coming from her neighbour’s house each night. The neighbour, a crazy woman with a young son, screams at Mr. Kobayashi when he attempts to interview her. The crazy woman moves away shortly after, but two days after the move the normal woman and her daughter die in a car crash.
Mr. Kobayashi follows up on more strange cases, and finds that they’re all linked, often because of this crazy lady. Everything leads back to a small village where sorcerers had performed rituals to summon the demon Kagutaba.
As the filmmaker and his cameraman get deeper and deeper into the history of this curse and those it affects, things get creepier and more dangerous for them. People start dying, go missing or randomly commit suicide, all due to some curse that has touched their lives. Of course because this movie starts with telling us how things ended for Mr. Kobayashi, we know it doesn’t go anywhere good for anyone.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: I found this movie to be pretty damn good. I don’t always like the “found footage” movies, since a few well-known bad ones have really soured it for me (I’m looking at you, Blair With Project), but Noroi was surprisingly good. Noroi was incredibly suspenseful despite being fairly low on the visuals of creepy stuff. It made you think creepy ghosts or demons were gunna pop up on the video more often than it really did, and I was on edge for much of its duration. This movie had me drawn in and creeped enough that I couldn’t even get out of bed to answer my phone or pee until it was over.
The twists and turns the complicated plot takes you on are pretty damn interesting, as were the multitude of characters we met throughout. Mr. Kobayashi was a character who really didn’t tell us much about himself, but through his actions you can see he’s a pretty normal, good guy who wants to help out these terrified people. He was actually pretty admirable I thought.
Below I’ve posted the full movie, which you can watch on Youtube with English subtitles. I recommend viewing it in HD since it’s already such a poor-quality video, and would likely look insanely grainy otherwise. Enjoy!