Saturday, December 18, 2010

Noroi Review

Noroi, 2005
Reviewed by: Dan S.
Directed by: Kôji Shiraishi
Written by: Kôji Shiraishi (uncredited)
Starring: Jin Muraki, Maria Takagi
Language: Japanese

Noroi is presented as an investigative documentary from a now missing television ghost hunter. So while there is some amateur shaky camera work during the more action orientated climax, a majority of the movie is interestingly made up of clips from investigations, variety television shows, news reports, and interviews. There is even a subtle musical score, appropriately simple enough to pass off as a modest television presentation, but also effective enough at setting the spooky mood. The narrative is fairly complex as our protagonist travels all over Tokyo, interviewing a large memorable cast of TV personalities, psychics, experts, lunatics, and other witnesses to the supernatural. Gradually it nbecomes clear there is a common thread connecting these seemingly unrelated but escalating paranormal curiosities, establishing an alluring mystery that drives the narrative in the second act.

The huge cast all give credible, convincing performances. Even the more amusing weirdoes are no more over-the-top than the average television psychic. The supernatural occurrences are creepy but fairly low key, with the cameras and audio recorders not catching anything you wouldn't see on a "true haunting" program. Ultimately, it is the unbearable dread generated by the growing sense that something very evil and deadly is slowly closing in on the characters that makes this film so effectively chilling. Very subtle CGI is used maybe once or twice, but its not really noticable enough to break the suspension of disbelief. While this is a mostly bloodless affair, the brief violence and explicit supernatural activity that shockingly erupts in the final act is a satisfying payoff for the film's unusual lengthy build.


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