Tuesday, January 3, 2012

GUROZUKA: Ghosts and gore for teens?

D. Yoichi Nishiyama
Synapse Films

Another offering in the Asian Cult Cinema line for Synapse Films; this new film from Japan is atmospheric and has some startling images sprinkled throughout. But unfortunately it is not the strongest release they have put out from the Far East. Borrowing heavily from THE RING and other ghost films popular in Japan then welding them to the the teen slasher cycle that had burned itself out in the late 90's, GUROZUKA never really comes to life on its own terms.

The film begins with two twenty-something young women who find a startling 8mm video tape that shows a Goh performance that ends with the performers murdering each other. Then these girls and a whole other gang of young ladies go on a road trip together. They are part of a movie club going to a remote house to make a short film together based on the rumors of the former club members disappearance. Naturally the killing on the tape and those missing girls are linked. Soon the ghostly Goh masked killer from the tape is spooking his (or her) way around the woods and cabin picking off the girls as they try to figure out how it all fits together.

The movie is as much,if not more, a teen mystery, as a horror movie and is surprisingly tame, even once the blood splattered climax approaches. There is no nudity, and though there is some violence, it is not particularly outlandish as one would come to expect from Asian cinema. The set up of the film reminded me a lot of the movie EVIL DEAD TRAP but never reaches those heights of fear or delirium. In fact I kind of wonder if this wasn't aimed at a youth audience in Japan, with the cast of pretty young girls, but extreme lack of exploitation. If that is the case, the movie works ok, though is a bit on the slow side. If it is intended to be a film aimed at adults, then it is too little to really satisfy.

The film is certainly well made enough, but as far as Asian horror goes this is kind of middle of the road.

The disc comes with a fun behind the scenes and a trailer.

Review © Andrew Copp

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