12. Noroi (2005)

I am not the huge J-horror fan that many people are. It seems that for the most part, mainstream Japanese horror films generally follow this pattern:

"I am a woman or child who died in a mysterious or tragic way."

"I am a woman or child who died in a mysterious or tragic way."

"Now I am a ghost, DIE DIE DIE!"

"Ahhhhh, now I am a ghost, DIE DIE DIE!"

That can get a little boring. However, Noroi (2005) is one of the best Japanese horror films I have ever seen, and one of my favorite horror films in general. It’s a shame that it is so difficult to procure in the US. Maybe the fact that it wouldn’t easily be remade as a Hollywood film has kept it from finding distribution. I don’t know. The movie is slow, meandering, ambiguous at points, and generally pretty creepy throughout.

It is yet another entry in the mockumentary genre, supposedly a documentary about a malicious demon/entity named “Kagutaba” compiled by a director named Kobayashi, who (naturally) vanished after a fire consumed his home and hasn’t been seen since.

A creepy-ass ritual to appease Kagatuba

A creepy-ass ritual to appease Kagatuba

The footage consists of Kobayashi’s interviews with people somehow affected by the Kagutaba curse, as well as sections taken from fictional Japanese television shows. It’s difficult to give an accurate summary because it is so long and complicated, but Wikipedia gives a pretty good one here. If you are too lazy, this is the basic stuff you have to know about the movie, and probably about Japan in general. Oh, serious spoilers ahead too, although you should know that by now because all of my posts have serious spoilers:

1. If your neighbor is messy, watch out, because there is a 99% chance they are a demon and you will die soon. Sorry.

Messy demon yard.

Messy demon yard.

I would probably not be very popular in Japan, because I’m really messy. That yard doesn’t even look that bad to me, except for the dead pigeons.

2. Kagutaba is one fucked up entity. He will make people tie creepy knots, kill themselves and others, and feed aborted fetuses to psychic children. Also lots of dogs will die, which is sad.

3. Japanese television is sweet. One of the scenes in the movie is this show about psychic children and they have to go through tests like figuring out what shape is drawn on a paper inside of a tube (sort of like Bill Murray’s psychic experiments in Ghostbusters), and making water appear inside a sealed bottle. It’s actually my favorite part of the movie, and the part in which we are introduced to Kana, the psychic child who eventually gets kidnapped and fed aborted fetuses.

Kana and the Kagatuba face

Kana and the Kagutaba face

She manages to pass the paper-inside-the-tube test incredibly accurately (perfect scale, no detail missing) until the last one, when the drawing she does is a creepy face (later in the documentary we can assume it is Kagutaba). Also, when she manages to make water appear in the bottle, scientists identify it as water from a lake with a strand of baby’s hair in it.

4. People are way too trusting. There is this “super psychic” who dresses completely in tin foil and attacks people and yells a lot, but Kana’s parents let him visit her because she says it is okay. I guess because she is psychic they trust her judgment. Would you let this man near your child?

The super psychic.

The super psychic.

I think the film succeeds so beautifully largely because the special effects are kept to a minimum. In fact, it would be nearly perfect if it were not for the one incredibly shitty CGI scene.

Mitsuo Hori (tin foil dude) and Kobayashi are running through the forest near the lake where the Kagutaba ritual village once stood, because Hori senses Kana’s presence. They find that all of the town’s dogs have been slaughtered (great and creepy up until this point), and then there is a “magic field” that they enter into, and then Kobayashi switches to night view and we see:

Ghost fetuses crawling all over ghost Kana. Yeah.

Ghost fetuses crawling all over ghost Kana. Yeah.

Kana’s ghost is covered in CGI little fetuses that are crawling all over her. This, in a film that up to this point has done a wonderful job with showing the effects of Kagatuba only through knot-tying, shifts in people’s behaviors, and by saying things like “the next day, everyone interviewed died.”  Way to go. I wish I could show you a clip, because that screencap only conveys about a tenth of its ridiculousness.

However, before I totally trash CGI work in this film, I must admit that the ending of this movie is wonderful, and does use a little. I won’t post a still though, because it is great and you should watch it for yourself.

I am just putting the poster here because it didn't fit at the beginning.

I am just putting the poster here because it didn't fit at the beginning.

Effectiveness of mockumentary format in this particular film: 9/10

CGI ghost fetuses: 2/10

Scariness factor: 8/10

Child psychic television sequence: 10/10

Ending: 8/10

Anne rating: 7.4/10. That really doesn’t convey how much I love this film (a lot).

I probably will end up not actually getting to 100 films by the end of October, because I was going to try to watch 5 today but my laptop just isn’t having any of it so I will probably only get three done if I’m lucky. However, I will probably just keep watching and writing until I get to 100, even if it is after the 31st. Just warning you.

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~ by Anne Harding on October 9, 2009.

4 Responses to “12. Noroi (2005)”

  1. That yard doesn’t look too bad to you? I will never ask you to water my plants, assuming I have plants at some point.

    • That is probably wise. Also, it is my birthday tomorrow and we can’t go to DC anymore so I could have come up to Ursinus to see Zombieland with you after all.

      PS why don’t I get to have an expensive dinner where people pay for my food like everyone else?

  2. i was really shocked by this movie , because as you say most horror movies are quit the same .
    So it was a whole new experience.

  3. is dis based on a reallife story??….

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