DVD Review – Marebito (Rialto)


Increasingly Japan is becoming renowned for these dark violent surreal horrors. Though whilst the majority of them like the Grudge or the Ring heavily reference the golden period of American horror in the 70′, some of them exist in their own unique world. One purveyor of this form of evil darkness is Shinya Tsukamoto, a director who has achieved cult status thanks to his cyberpunk debut Tetsuo: Iron Man, and has continued in this vein with the likes of Gemini and Vital. Yet Tsukamoto only stars in this film. It was directed by Takashi Shimizu, who’ found fame with both the Japanese and American versions of the Grudge. In fact Marebito was reportedly filmed between the two, in only eight days on digital video. And it’s infinitely more original, terrifying and confusing. Tsukamoto plays a freelance cameraman who becomes obsessed with an image he filmed of a suicide. Watching it over and over, a graphic knife through the eye, he notices the look of terror moments before the man plunges the knife. In an effort to understand and experience this fear, he travels into the bowels of Tokyo where he discovers a strange world and a pale naked woman chained to a rock. Taking her home to his apartment then the fun begins. There are links to Claire Denis’ unsettling Trouble Every Day, the world of H.P. Lovecraft, even Tsukamoto’ Tokyo Fist, yet these are vague and ultimately Marebito is very original, very stylish and very unsettling. Unlike The Grudge this is a psychological terror, and Marebito posses a complexity and originality that very few of this new wave of dark and violent Japanese horrors have ever come close to. Find this.

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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.