I had to interrupt this movie the first night I watched it, and I finished it the next night. In between, I was at Acapella and picked up the book on K.K. by Jerry White and flipped to the back, where he calls this movie an utter failure of storytelling. I didn’t read any more, wanted no spoilers, but I hope White at least found something to like about this one, if not the story, because I liked it quite a lot, and thought it was better than Kurosawa’s follow-up Retribution.
Starring Miki Nakatani of the Ring series and Chaos, title star of Memories of Matsuko
It’s similar to Retribution… a ghost-revenge story with only a few characters set in old, run-down buildings with sudden shocks and supernatural occurrences in broad daylight. Atmosphere and cinematography (by the same guy as Retribution) are ace. Movie is horror, but it doesn’t seem to know that it’s horror. As with all of Kurosawa’s movies, the genre cliches aren’t there, the music and camera and lighting and characters don’t do what you’d expect. They do get panicked and frightened, but they’ll also walk knowingly into danger and stare at the ghosts, looking slightly sad or tired, not necessarily afraid. Very cool movie, not one of Kurosawa’s very best but it’s got me looking forward to Tokyo Sonata again.
At right, Reiko’s book editor Hidetoshi Nishijima, star of License to Live, Bug House and Kitano’s Dolls
The story is a little baffling, but KK also wrote Charisma, so baffling ain’t unusual. Reiko’s editor gets her a quiet place in the country where she can write her next book. She meets her neighbor Yoshioka, a university professor with a 1000-year-old mummy (which moves by itself occasionally) in his room. The professor isn’t sure if this is the same mummy that was dug up 80 years ago, but he watches a time-lapse film of that previous mummy just to confuse us a little more. We’re not sure if he’s dangerous or just a crappy professor, but he seems nice enough to Reiko.
The anthropologist is Etsushi Toyokawa of The Great Yokai War and Boiling Point
Besides the mummy moving about, Reiko is being haunted by the ghost of a young girl. Graves are dug, bodies are carried around, a foggy pier is discovered, Reiko is vomiting black mud (this was happening before she even moved into the house) and somehow Reiko gets her book written. Her editor shows up and terrorizes her for no clear purpose until it turns out he rented the same place to a previous writer (the young ghost-girl) and murdered her. Reiko would be next but the cops bust him just in time. She burns her book and Yoshioka burns the mummy. Then they go for a walk to the foggy pier, where the ghost knocks Yoshioka into the swampy water for some reason!
The ghost/girl isn’t in every scene, she’s just somehow in all of my captures