Tag Archives: surreal

mother! – Review

11 Oct

When I was first getting heavily into film, one of my main inspirations was Darren Aronofsky. He went places with his movies that I never thought were possible. Requiem for a Dream has had an impact on me that not a lot of films have and that impact kept going when I saw his films PiThe FountainThe Wrestler, and Black Swan. I thought this guy could do no wrong. Then came Noah and I saw that maybe he isn’t perfect. Noah was a huge disappointment for me and I always thought it was a strange project for Aronofsky to take. When I saw his next film, mother!, was going to be a strange psychological horror trip down the rabbit how, I felt like it was a return to form and I was super excited. Well, I’ve seen the movie and I still can’t get a grip on what I saw. This is going to be a rough review to write because I still have no idea how I really feel. One moment I hate it, and the next I find something to truly respect. Call for help.

A woman known only as Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in a secluded, dilapidated house with her husband who is only credited as Him (Javier Bardem). Him is a poet who is struggling with severe writer’s block while Mother works day in and day out trying to fix the house, which is actually Him’s old house which was destroyed in a fire. One day Man (Ed Harris) shows up at Him and Mother’s door, and Him allows Man to stay the night. The actions of Man upsets Mother and things only get worse when Man’s wife, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), shows up and Him also allows Woman to stay. As Mother is quietly tormented by both Man and Woman, more and more people begin inviting themselves into Mother’s house and invading her life to the point where her very existence is threatened by the endless mob of people.

This movie really is something else. mother! is one of the most polarizing movies of the year, and not just with me, but also with critics and audiences. The structure of the movie, itself, even feels like polar opposites of one another. The first hour of this film is outstanding. I was sucked into it and I was ready to defend this film against anything negative one said. The dynamic between Mother and Him was intense. The abuse that Mother was receiving was quiet and nonviolent but abuse all the same. That’s when I thought, “Oh, this movie’s about toxic relationships where the pain is never from anything physical.” I thought that was a really interesting thematic journey to be on and an idea that isn’t explored all that much. Lawrence, Bardem, Harris, and especially Pfeiffer were all at the top of their games in this half of the movie. When more people began entering the home, I also thought it was a wild idea to think of and then actually execute and execute well onscreen. So far, mother! was gutsy, well paced, original, and had a clever artistic balance. Then the movie slowed down, and that was fine. A slow down was necessary. But then, we get into the second half of the film, more specifically the third act…

It is at this point that both Darren Aronofsky and mother! goes off the rails. Without spoiling anything, more people show up to the house and the great idea Aronofsky had is spoiled by doing way too much with it. Not only that, but he shamelessly bashes the viewer over the head with his religious symbolism that completely destroyed what my theory of the movie was about. It’s a relentless mish mash of violence and allegories and pretension. I get it Darren. We all get it. Settle down. It’s also at this time where both Man and Woman are nowhere in sight, and they were only one of the most interesting part of the movie. The tracking camera work that worked so well in the first half just becomes nauseating as things start getting crazier and crazier. I wasn’t really affected by what I was looking at. I wasn’t feeling angry anymore or upset for Mother. I wasn’t even laughing at the insanity. I was just getting so confused and annoyed at how far things were going that I was getting bored. It was a very strange feeling.

So let’s weigh the good with the bad. The good is the first half of the movie that is filled with excellent performances, an idea I found very unique, and camera work that was very sure of itself. Like I said, I was sucked in for a while. The bad is pretty much everything else. The actual point of the entire movie is pretentious and completely destroyed what I thought about the film. The themes themselves are pretentious, but the obvious way Aronofsky uses them is just annoying. The idea that was great in the first half also goes way too far and is also ruined in the second half. It seems like it may be balanced, but when I  say I hated the second half I mean that I HATED it. I really can’t talk too much about what I didn’t like in the second half because it would spoil the film.

mother! is an anomaly of a movie. There are times where I admire it and there are times that it just bothers me. At this very point in time, I can still say I’m torn, but the film did anger me more than I wanted it to. I like when a movie can be angering for the emotional response that it needs. Detroit was angering, but that was the response that Bigelow wanted. mother! was angering just because of how annoying and pretentious the film got and how Aronofsky went way too far with his idea. I don’t know how I’m going to feel about this movie down the line or after repeat viewings, but this is how I feel right now.

Final Grade: C-

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The Rambler – Review

31 May

Here we have one of those movies that I found for an insanely cheap price at a Best Buy and I thought, “Why not?” I picked it up solely based on what I read on the box, but other than that I had absolutely no idea what I was buying. While it wasn’t released in theaters, The Rambler did have screenings at festivals like Sundance and the SXSW Film Festival before it was released on DVD and blu ray. From the reactions I’ve read of other critics, be it amateur or professional, people either hate this movie or sort of like it. It’s pretty fair to say that I didn’t really have high expectations going into it.

 

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After getting out of prison, a man only known as the Rambler (Dermot Mulroney) returns home to his less than faithful and loving wife, Cheryl (Natasha Lyonne). The Rambler soon finds himself kicked out of his trailer, but finds a glimmer of hope when his brother invites him to come work on his ranch. The Rambler sets off on the the road across the country and finds himself face to face with some of the most bizarre and depraved people you could possibly imagine, like the Scientist (James Cady) whose machine that records dreams to VHS is more than likely to make someone’s head explode and the Girl (Lindsay Pulsipher), who may be the Rambler’s downfall as she keeps meeting him and dying in many different scenarios and ways.

Let me just start by saying that I totally understand where some of the hate towards this movie came from, but I can’t really say I understand why there’s so much hate from a good portion of those people who have seen this movie. Before anyone goes into The Rambler it may be worthwhile warning them that what they are about to see is extremely weird. Like aggressively weird. This weirdness may be part of the reason why a lot of people were not into this movie at all, at least amongst other things. I was really expecting to be bored, annoyed, or both with this movie and I even started asking myself what even came over me that made me purchase it in the first place. Honestly though, this is a pretty cool movie that I would actually CAUTIOUSLY recommend people who have any interest in film makers like David Lynch or weird movies in general.

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The reason why I stress the word “cautiously” is because I don’t want anyone to think that this comes anywhere near a David Lynch movie. Let’s look at Lost Highway, for example. Lost Highway is a deeply unsettling and weird movie, but you can tell that there’s something really deep going on beneath the surface of the movie, even if it takes multiple viewings to get even close to figuring it out. The Rambler is a different story. I don’t know if I’m missing something, but it doesn’t feel like that deep of a movie with any sort of actual puzzle to solve, which is what makes movies like this so much fun. The theory that I have about the meaning of the movie is really weak, but it’s really the only thing I could extrapolate from what I saw. There were a lot of scenes where I thought writer/director Calvin Lee Reeder was doing weird stuff for the sake of weirdness, which isn’t really the right way to go about it.

There are some things in this movie, however, that actually saved it for me as a whole. First off, Dermot Mulroney, who is known mostly for his performances in dramas and romantic comedies, really hits it home as the stoic Rambler. He doesn’t talk much, but he really doesn’t even have to. I love characters like that. The soundtrack is also first rate, and the cinematography really isn’t bad at all. There’s also some scenes that really made me howl with amusement and disgust at the same time. The first time someone’s head explodes because of the dream machine is startling and hilarious. There’s also a scene that probably features the strangest game of poker I will ever see. So while not all of the movie really works, there are parts that hit it out of the park.

While I expected to be completely put off by this movie, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Rambler. It is in no way a first rate movie, but as a B-movie directed by an altogether unheard of film maker, it really isn’t bad. By the time I reached the hour mark in the movie, I was beginning to grow a little tired of it, and by the time the movie was actually over I had more than enough. Still, for anyone who likes movies that go places you would never expect and contort reality in nightmarish ways, it may be a movie you’d like to check out at least once.

Black Moon – Review

5 Nov

Experimental film is a really weird area of cinema that has its really hard core, die hard followers and plenty of critics and skeptics who really can’t get into it at all. I, personally, think that experimental film making can be really cool when done by the right artist and done correctly. Of course it helps if these experimental films dabble with surrealism, but that’s just my own personal taste. One name that doesn’t really come up in  conversation about this kind of film making is French writer/director Louis Malle. Malle is best known for films like My Dinner with Andre and Lacombe Lucien, along with his many documentaries. In 1975, however, Louis Malle made a film called Black Moon, a surreal trip with hints of Lewis Carroll that isolated many critics and audiences, even still today.

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In a post-apocalyptic world, men and women are engaged in a brutal war against each other. Lily (Cathryn Harrison) is a teenage girl who is fleeing the countryside to get away from the war soon finds herself at a mansion in the middle of nowhere after she was chased by the opposing soldiers. As she begins exploring the house she meets a strange old lady (Therese Giehse) lying in a bed, who’s only friend is a rat and who keeps contact with the outside world through a ham radio. She also meets a brother (Joe Dallesandro) and sister (Alexandra Stewart) who looks very much alike and may actually be the same person. Finally, she meets many talking animals and plants, including a unicorn, but all of this doesn’t matter once the war begins getting closer and closer to the mansion.

This is one of the strangest movies I’ve seen in a long time, and I went into Black Moon not knowing anything about it. As far as this film goes, I think this was a really entertaining film for being an experimental movie. There was enough weird things going on in it to keep me interested and the whole backdrop of a war between men and women was an interesting thing to see, especially with both sides being equally menacing. Being made in the mid-1970s, Malle wanted to make a sort of statement on the new wave of feminism going on, but the way he does it is smart. Both sides of the war are equally brutal and unforgiving towards each other, with scenes of violence being committed by both genders.

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Being a movie with very little dialogue, the sound design is very impressive and perfectly makes up for how little actual talking there is. It’s really amusing whenever an animal talks, and can be kind of weird when flowers and grass cry out in pain when they are being stepped on. Even the bugs can be heard, their tiny mandibles scratching on the rocks that they scurry across. Along with the awesome audio is some really impressive cinematography by Sven Nykvist, who often collaborated with Ingmar Bergman. The film has a very muted look to it, emphasizing the time of year and the mysterious war alike. His cinematography really succeeded at putting me in the movie, and worked very well with the sound design to be very immersive, if not just as strange as everything else.

Now, even though the cinematography, sound, and strangeness is all very appealing and made for an entertaining movie, Black Moon can become pretty tiresome after a little while and may require more than one sitting to finish. This is a pretty average length movie, but there really isn’t any story and a lot of just running around around the house seeing weird things. That’s why most surrealist and experimental films that people talk about, like the overly obsessed Un Chien Andalou and La Jetée, are short films. The film makers got their points across in a short amount of time so our brains didn’t feel like mush at the end of the movies. Black Moon goes on and on, and a break is recommended to more easily get through the film.

Black Moon is one of those movies where you need to be careful because it is far from a traditional film. It’s Louis Malle’s trip down Carroll’s rabbit hole where the result is a surreal metaphor for gender relations and sexual discovery. Very 1970s if you ask me. I enjoy films like this because they challenge me to look deeper into the odd events and figure them out, even though this one is a bit more explicit than most. If you enjoy the work of Buñuel, Dali, or other surrealists, you ought to check out Black Moon.

The Tetsuo Trilogy – Review

21 Oct

I’d feel pretty comfortable making the assumption that not many people know who Shin’ya Tsukomoto is, and I was one of those people up until last week when I started watching his Tetsuo films. He’s actually a cult Japanese film maker with a pretty sizable following. I then realized that he was actually the star in a movie that I recently reviewed, Marebito, but now I got to see his film making talents in full swing. I gotta say, much to my surprise, I’m not really that impressed. These movies were more of a chore than anything else, and I really wanted to like them considering the underground following that they have and especially concerning what seemed to inspire these films.

In 1989, the best film in the trilogy was released, even though how it was made is much more impressive. That film is Tetsuo: The Iron Man.

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In what can only be described as a very strange morning, a Japanese businessman (Tomorowo Taguchi) and his girlfriend (Kei Fujiwara) end up hitting a character known as the Metal Fetishist (Shin’ya Tsukomoto) with their car and fleeing the scene to dump the body. What happens next defies all logic. The businessman starts to morph into a being made entirely of scrap metal, an event which has consequences that are often fatal. It turns out that the Fetishist is all but dead, and has returned to enact his revenge in the only way that he deems fit.

This is a very short film, only clocking in at a little over an hour, which seemed odd to me before I watched it and had any idea what the movie was like. Now that I’ve seen it, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, I wish it was shorter. This is a surreal trip down a junkyard, cyber-punk rabbit hole that only gets odder as it goes along. I’ve seen this film compared to the early works of David Lynch (Eraserhead immediately comes to mind) and the body horror that is so familiar in David Cronenberg’s work. I think this is a spot on comparison and is what makes this movie successful. By the 45 minute mark, however, it was all wearing a little thin. Still, that’s the only thing that is wrong with this film.

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Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a very impressive film, especially considering that Tsukomoto wrote, produced, directed, had an acting part, and designed the effects all by himself. He also worked on the cinematography with Fujiwara, who plays the girlfriend. This is a really cool film with excellent special effects that shows what marvels can be done without CGI. It’s a bit too long considering how kinetic it is, but it’s still worth a watch, but for film fanatics only.

Tsukomoto couldn’t leave this movie alone, however, and released a retelling of the story with his 1992 film Tetsuo II: Body Hammer.

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Taniguchi Tomoo (Tomorowo Taguchi again) is a man with a dark and mysterious past, but has still found happiness with his wife and child. One day a group of skin heads abduct his child, and in the process of trying to get him back, Taniguchi accidentally kills him…with a giant gun that grows from his body. This horrifies his wife and he is soon kidnapped by Yatsu (Shin’ya Tsukomoto also again). Yatsu’s plan is to use that power that Taniguchi has to make an army of cyborg skinheads and exact revenge of his own.

So once again, the story here is all sorts of odd, but it worked so much better in The Iron ManBody Hammer is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the absolute worst movies I have ever seen. So much so that I cheated to get through it. I skipped certain scenes because they were damn near unwatchable. The production values are obviously higher and the movie may be in color, but it is still just a rehashing of something that was really cool and is now made stupid. The only redeeming thing about Body Hammer is the special effects, but unfortunately THE MOVIE IS SO GOD DAMN DARK, I CAN’T EVEN SEE ANYTHING!

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I really couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it. This movie is such trash compared to the first film. Adding a story didn’t make it cooler, nor did the better special effects…well the ones I could see anyway. Another thing that didn’t help was the fact that the movie seemed to be monochromatic even though it’s color. The entire film was just a mushing of blues and grays, none 0f which looks exactly good. I understand, this is supposed to be industrial, but that doesn’t excuse how horrible this movie looks. Any fan of the first one should stay away from Body Hammer because you’re sure to be disappointed.

But still, STILL, Tsukomoto couldn’t resist make yet another Tetsuo movie. In 2009 he released the third film in the trilogy called Tetsuo: The Bullet Man.

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Anthony (Eric Bossick) is walking with his son one day when the Metal Fetishist (Shin’ya Tsukomoto yet again!) runs over his little boy. This triggers an odd (or not so odd at this point) reaction for Anthony who begins to turn into a metallic man (shocker!).  Soon, Anthony begins to learn how he has android DNA which he got from his mother who died of cancer some years before, but was never told by his father. He begins to accept what he has become and tries to control it so he can get revenge on the Fetishist who killed his son and changed his life.

By the time I watched The Bullet Man, I was so sick of this trilogy and the rehashing of the same story over and over again. Doing that once with Body Hammer was one thing, although it was a failure, but doing it again with The Bullet Man is just annoying. Still, I did have a better time with this one than I did with its predecessor. The story is complete ludicrous, as usual, and the acting is also really subpar. What got me was that I could at least see what was going on, and unlike the other two, there was characterization in this one. The action was also pretty cool, even though Tsukomoto went kind of crazy with the crazy camerawork. Major points off for that one.

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Much like the other films, the special effects are what really make The Bullet Man anywhere near cool. This is a pretty terrible movie, but it’s almost so bad it’s good. I may be in the minority with this opinion, but I’d much prefer this one over the second one. This one has some really kinetic action and some repulsively bad writing and acting. While this isn’t as shitty as the second one, it’s still a big steaming pile if you catch my drift.

Well, there’s what I think of the Tetsuo Trilogy. As you can see I am not impressed. The first film is the only one that remotely impressed me and the second and third are just dumb. If anyone has any interest in Tsukomoto’s work with this trilogy, limit yourselves to the first one. For your own sake.

Being John Malkovich – Review

16 Oct

There are some movies where I think to myself, “How did this even get made?” 9 times out of 10 that means that I’m watching a piece of shit movie that seems like little to no talent or effort went into it at all. Now, it’s true that I had the “how did this get made” though while I was watching Being John Malkovich, but it was the rare 1 out of 10 chance where I had this thought even as I was watching an incredible movie that was full of talent, effort, and one of the most original screenplays I have ever seen. Still, with a story as surreal and other worldly as this, the movie has a lot to say and it really is some of the most fun I ever had watching a film.

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Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a struggling puppeteer who has recently gotten a job on the 7 1/2 floor of an office building as a file clerk. The office has incredibly low ceilings and the only was to get there is by prying the elevator doors open when it is in between the seventh and eighth floors, but that isn’t the strangest part about it. Hidden behind a filing cabinet is a portal that leads Schwartz, and anyone who enters into the mind of John Malkovich (who plays himself). Craig and his coworker Maxine (Catherine Keener), who refuses to return the love that Craig is pouring on her, decide to open the portal to the public for two hundred dollars. Everything seems to be going fine for everyone (except John Malkovich) until Maxine and Craig’s wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz), become attracted to each other, but Maxine will only love her if she is inside John Malkovich. This odd love quadrangle soon results an existential crisis for everyone involved.

While this movie was released in 1999, I saw that an early draft of the script was actually being circulated by screenwriter Charlie Kaufman as early as 1989. This just adds to the miracle that this movie was made in the first place. Screenplays are very often around for years before being made, but this one is just so odd. John Malkovich was attached as producer for a while, but never actually planned on playing himself when the movie was made. Many people were suggesting other actors to play the part, including Tom Cruise, but Kaufman was only going to allow the movie to be made if John Malkovich was the celebrity whose mind would be entered. After much convincing, Malkovich decided to act in the movie, and the rest is history at its most surreal.

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From the get go, this movie plays by its own rules, and I need to give so  much credit to Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze, who before this movie only worked on music videos and commercials and is now an Academy Award winning film maker/writer. The fact that these two took a story about a portal that leads to the mind of John Malkovich and then spits you out on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike and made it work well is really incredible. Beneath all of the surrealism and strangeness is a wonderful look at how people obsess over the idea of celebrity to the point where they want to stop being themselves in exchange for a life that is much more exciting. If you want to dig deeper, it actually is a powerful movie about self worth and respect that is hidden beneath a dreamscape of portals and advocates of ever lasting life.

Another thing that’s wonderful about Being John Malkovich is that it made me laugh, and laugh very hard. The now famous “Malkovich, Malkovich” scene is one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen in a movie ever. I feel like I’m very harsh on comedies in the sense that it has to be original, somewhat smart or witty, and not rely on gross out or sexual humor. A movie that doesn’t apply to these personal rules are not funny to me. This film almost exists on a different dimensional plane of comedy where people like the members of Monty Python thrive. It’s smart and original on so many levels, but also just unbelievably funny. This is comedy, ladies and gentlemen.

Being John Malkovich is one of the most interesting, original, and insightful comedies that I’ve seen in a long time, not to mention that it provided me with enough surrealism to last a year. This was to be expected from the writer of films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation, and the director of Her and some of the most wild music videos you’ll see. This is an excellent film that I would normally say isn’t for everyone, but it really sorta is for everyone. I feel like there’s joy in this movie for everyone and even some things that everyone can relate to. Being John Malkovich is one of the best comedies of all time.

Dogtooth – Review

25 Sep

I, personally, have not seen a whole lot of movies from Greece. I know they exist, but we just never seem to cross paths. That is until I saw Yorgos Lanthimos’ film Dogtooth. I got wind of this movie from hearing and reading from different sources and people about how weird it is, but also how well crafted it was also. Then upon learning that it was the first Greek film in years to be nominated for the Best Foreign Film award at the Oscars, I figured that I’d better quick add it to my list of movies to see. Well, I’ve finally gotten around to it and…well…wow…

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In an unspecified time at an unspecified place somewhere in Greece, a father (Christos Stergioglou) and mother (Michelle Valley) work hard to keep their three children (Aggeliki Papoulia, Christos Passalis, and Mary Tsoni) safe from the dangers of the outside world. Of course, this is the job of every parent, but it becomes strange when the children are fully grown and have never stepped foot beyond the gates that surround the house. The parents spend their days teaching the children a bunch of misinformation and scaring them away from wanting to go anywhere outside the gates. The children, knowing only what their parents tell them, are in fact afraid, but their curiosities start to get the better of them when their father starts bringing home a woman, Christina (Anna Kalaitzidou) for his son.

Let me start by saying that this movie is absolutely not what I expected. I went into Dogtooth thinking that it was going to be so weird and surreal that I would pretty much have to shut off that part of my brain that knows what it does about movies and just hold on for the ride. This really isn’t true. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end with actual character development and a story that is as concrete as it needs to be. Without looking at all the symbolism and other jazz like that, this is simply a movie about parents who are holding their children away from ever really learning anything constructive. Of course, that’s not the kind of cinephile that I am. I love looking for what a movie may possibly mean other than the obvious, and let me tell you, there’s quite a message to be had.

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What I really love about this movie is how loudly Lanthimos is yelling his point. What I, and many other people, have taken from Dogtooth is an idea of anti-censorship, and not just on a bug level. Sure, the movie can definitely speak about censorship of art and the stupidity behind the reasoning of not allowing someone to say or create what they want. I’d much rather read this as a satire behind family and the obsessive nature of some parents to protect their children. While this movie is over the top in how the parents and sheltered children are represented, I think everyone can attest that they have met someone that has been overly sheltered by whoever their guardians were. Keeping your children away from experiencing the negative sides of the world can do more harm than good, and that’s what Lanthimos is trying to say with Dogtooth, which i think is a brilliant and altogether unique message.

Going back to the story, this is a classic example of less is more. Lanthimos and co-writer Efthymis Filippou tell the story of one of the most twisted families in film history by not giving the audience a whole lot of information. We know the father works at a factory, but what kind of factory. There are many instances of technology from the past 20 years, but we never really know what time period it is. The children are taught wrong definitions to words, but we don’t really know why. There’s also a mysterious older brother on the other side of the fence that the children believe exist, but where did that lie ever come from? This is a strange way to tell the story, but it made me as a viewer feel just as disconnected with reality as the children did. That along with camera angles that would make a film textbook self destruct.

Dogtooth is one of those movies that you’re going to want to think about for a few days before you can make a decision on whether or not you like it. Me, personally, it wasn’t a perfect film and it kind of wore on me after a little bit, but it was definitely interested to hold my attention until the end. This isn’t a traditional film with a traditional story, but a story is there and the message is unique and necessary, even if you don’t quite agree with it. This film isn’t for people who are looking for a straightforward film that explains everything clearly, which is totally an ok thing. Dogtooth forced me to put the pieces together and made me feel isolated at the same time, and for that I say it was a good film.

Marebito – Review

11 May

Takashi Shimizu us not a name that should not be unknown since his achievement with the Japanese Ju-on series and his subsequent remakes with the American Grudge has earned him international success. Between the filming of his Japanese and American entries in the franchise, Shimuzu worked on a film that has received little to now recognition. That film is Marebito. This is a very different movie from Ju-on: The Grudge even though it seemed to have been marketed as a straightforward horror film.What Marebito actually is is a  twisted sort of technologic fairy tale that gets weirder and darker as the story progresses.

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Masuoka (Shinya Tsukamoto) is a freelance videographer who has recently become obsessed with capturing absolute fear. He soon becomes disappointed after he films a man committing suicide in a subway station, and since then no one has shown fear like that. In order to learn why this man was so scared, Masuoka returns to the subway station and finds that there are creatures called Deros that have been living there in a sort of mystical world with the subway station being the link between them. While exploring the area, Masuoka finds a woman chained to a cave whom he calls “F” (Tomomi Miyashita). Masuoka brings F home and observes her very carefully and learns that she has a less than sane way to feed. As Masuoka begins treating F like a beloved pet, he begins to hear warnings from mysterious beings and starts to question how much of what is happening to him is real and how much is just a twisted fantasy.

Marebito is a very strange movie, but definitely not something I was expecting. If you’re looking for a run of the mill ghost story, this isn’t really one of them and you might be disappointed. What this movie is is actually a pretty surreal ghost story that delves even deeper into the realm of psychological horror. There are ghosts and creatures in this movie, but they aren’t the main point of horror in this movie. The horror, itself, stems from the character of Masuoka and his obsessive desire to understand fear, which is creepy enough. But the means he works with to understand it and take care of F at the same time are more unsettling than any creature that is in this movie.

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I really did enjoy the more surrealistic things that happened in this movie. It was sort of a pleasant. It took some getting used to at first, but once I started figuring out what the movie was all about, I started to get into it a lot more. The way Takashi Shimizu uses technology in this is creepy in that sort of “found on Youtube” kind of way. There are a lot of unsettling images that are made even more creepy by the grainy look of the video that Masuoka is filming on. Shinya Tsukamoto and Tomomi Miyashita are both really good in this, equally playing off each other in one of the strangest onscreen connections I’ve seen.

While this was a good movie, there are faults to it that really  make me groan just thinking about it. First of all, I was buying all of the strangeness while Masuoka was exploring the depths of the subway. It was creepy and atmospheric, but then something happens that really made me questions just what the hell I was watching. Anyone who has seen this movie must know what I mean. The creepy atmosphere is completely abandoned for something that makes no sense at all. Also, I feel like the story would have worked better if this was a half hour short film. As a short film, Marebito would have been perfect. I could rewatch this movie and make significant notes on what could be cut or trimmed in order to make this an excellent short.

Marebito is a pretty cool horror film that deserves a bit more attention than it has actually gotten. Sure, this movie doesn’t reach the heights that Shimizu set with his other works in the Ju-on series, but this movie does raise a couple of good points and also achieves a creepy atmosphere that is maintained in most parts of the movie. Don’t go into Marebito expecting jump scares and spooky ghosts. Go into it expecting an unsettling examination of a man’s psychological breakdown. This is a good movie, but with some cuts and trims, it could have been an excellent short film.