Marebito, comes from the mind of the director of the highly successful Grudge movie series Takashi Shimizu.

Watching the movie it is obvious Shimizu is a highly original film-maker, although one wonders about the darker recesses of his mind, as Marebito is quite weird and twisted. We follow Masuoka (Shinya Tsukamoto) a freelance cameraman who is so obsessed with fear that he searches for it, trawling the streets with his hand-held camera, desperate to capture some unpleasant proceeding as it happens. It is his sick attraction to footage he has captured of a grisly suicide in the subway that leads him to something even more disturbing.

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To go into too much gory detail would be unfair to its viewer, but Shimizu has a wildly inventive imagination. Masuoka returns to the scene of the horrific incident took place and whilst trying to comprehend the dead man's reasoning, he opens a doorway into a bizarre, cavernous underworld.

It is in this underworld where the movie's main strengths lie, using great locations that are eerie and creepy as hell. Masuoka's wandering camera lense comes across a beautiful, naked, mute girl whom he takes home. Fascinated by her he begins to uncover her horrifying secrets which may finally be the key to unlocking some of the knowledge he has been so desperate for.

Marebito is unsettling viewing and contains some horrific moments which will delight some horror fans. For me it arrived at a time when I have seen one too many horror movies. It stands out as a unique piece of art, though its story fails to grip. The acting was good but neither lead is given much to chew on other than human flesh, and I found myself slipping away from what was playing out before me on screen.

This is by no means a bad movie, but it won't be to everyone's taste. Shimizu is a director to watch, no doubt, but it would be interesting to see this 'typical' horror director tackle something a little different for his next film. Here he allows for very little character development and even basic storytelling which are essential to holding an audience's attention and pulling them into the movie. Grainy Visuals and pulse beating sound effects do highten tension and must be applauded given the movie's obvious low budget. However, I struggled to be hooked, I was creeped out for sure but cared little for the outcome.

A dreamy but ultimately dreary disappointment.

Reviewed on: 16 Feb 2007
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Gory J-horror about a cameraman obsessed with capturing fear on film.
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Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Chiaki Konaka, Chiaki Konaka

Starring: Shinya Tsukamoto, Tomomi Miyashita, Kazuhiro Nakahara, Miho Ninagawa, Shun Sugata

Year: 2004

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Japan


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The Grudge 2
Peeping Tom