DVD region 2. Chelsea Films.
Takashi Shimizu, director of The Grudge, comes
an entertaining, if not exactly ground-breaking slice of J-Horror,
with the added dimension of 3D - Japan's first live-action foray
into the format.
Shock Labyrinth (as it's titled onscreen) is based around
a real theme park attraction, The Haunted Hospital - the world's
largest haunted house show. You might sneer at this, but if Disney
can grind three movies out of a similar gimmick, then why not?
It does at least provide an impressively creepy set for the supernatural
action to take place in.
film follows a group of friends who find themselves drawn back
to the scene of a long-forgotten childhood tragedy when a long-lost
member of their group reappears. Trapped in the maze-like haunted
house, they find themselves confronting the horrors of the past
as vengeful spirits return to take revenge - or do they?
past and present combine, the story twists and turns - not always
convincingly or coherently, it must be said. But this feels like
a story that is deliberately vague and confusing, toying with
your perceptions as it takes its characters through assorted strange
and spooky situations. Not everything works - I'm not sure why
anyone thought that a bunny rabbit backpack was going to put the
fear of God into anyone other than the most extreme leporiphobic,
and the scenes of the exhibition dummies coming to life is a little
too close to zombie cliche to really work. But on the whole, there
is always something interesting going on visually, and enough
mysterious elements to make it a worthwhile and fun viewing experience,
with enough weird and eerie moments to keep most J-Horror fans
the 3D is a mixed blessing on a TV screen - the red and blue lenses
wash out the colour and the 3D effect is only partially successful
(particularly as your eyes keep flicking to the subtitles and
losing focus). There are a few striking moments, but on the whole
it's a distraction more than a pleasure (I can imagine it was
pretty impressive theatrically). Luckily, the two-disc set also
contains the flat version, so you have the choice. The DVD also
comes with several interview and behind-the-scenes clips that
are good fun and round the package out nicely.
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