The Complex

The Complex


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Asuka moves into the titular complex with her family, but it soon becomes clear that she's more than metaphorically haunted.

The Complex is directed by Hideo Nakata, who is perhaps most famous as director of Ring, Ring 2, Dark Water, and then the US remake The Ring 2. Fans of his work will discover more of the same mixture of creeping menace, a fraught sensibility and genuine scares. However, it's tempered by a script that leads in directions that feel a bit silly at times, and some odd decisions leave it feeling a bit low-budget and clumsy. Writers Junya Kato and Ryuta Miyake also wrote a TV prologue, so expect that to turn up on the DVD release as an extra. It's hard to guess what's in that, because The Complex feels like it's got too much going on all by itself.

Copy picture

The action is handled well initially, Atsuko Maeda is good as Asuka, recently installed in an apartment on a shared stairwell. The flickering fluorescents, the anonymous concrete, it's all horror movie staple, but the scrapes and bumps from next door suggest there's something more going on. There is, but there's even more even more going on, and that's when things get too complex.

There are ghost hunters, exorcists, the police get involved, too. Time itself becomes plastic as various back stories are explored, and it's the extent to which lines are coloured and that robs The Complex of some of its scares. Everything's explained, and while there are certainly scares there's almost as wide a selection of the supernatural. It feels like an over-egged pudding, admittedly one studded with under-currents of more prosaic loss, grief, and guilt.

Some of the make-up effects feel a bit odd, and some of the lighting decisions feel a bit like old Doctor Who - it may be a stylistic choice, but it doesn't feel like it. There's a point where someone shouts "you are shunning reality", and it's perhaps a bit ironic when asking someone to accept the proper procedure for dealing with a restless spirit but it's even more so when a film requires this kind of suspension of disbelief. While it's scary, even haunting in places, The Complex isn't going to win any converts to the genre, and given the options out there even fans of J-Horror and horror in general might be better giving it a miss.

Reviewed on: 10 Jul 2013
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A young student gradually becomes aware that something sinister is afoot in her housing complex.

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Ryûta Miyake, Jun'ya Katô

Starring: Atsuko Maeda, Hiroki Narimiya, Masanobu Katsumura, Naomi Nishida, Kanau Tanaka

Year: 2013

Runtime: 106 minutes

Country: Japan


EIFF 2013

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