Tuesday, September 16, 2008

eye fidelity.

Marebito (AKA The Stranger from Afar. 2004)
Dir: Takashi Shimizu
Cast: Shinya Tsukamoto, Kazuhiro Nakahara, Tomomi Miyashita and Shun Sugata.

Photobucket


"Can I face the terror to which the only escape is to kill myself?"


Welcome to the Prozac fueled world of Takuyoshi Masuoka (Tsukamoto), freelance cameraman, manic depressive and pervy voyeur who rates recording the private lives of his unsuspecting neighbours and then sweatily watching them back whilst wearing only his pants and socks as his favourite hobby.

Whilst out picking up his (very) dirty laundry one day he is lucky enough to capture some footage of a poor guy committing suicide on the subway platform then (and how's this for a result?) even manages to sell the resulting film to a local teevee station (whilst keeping the full uncut version for his own personal use).

Well, it beats filming talking dogs for That's Life I guess.

With a beer in one hand and his cock in the other, Takuyoshi settles down to watch the final moments of (the by now identified) Arei Kuroki (Nakahara) as he takes his own life in a particularly unique way.

You see (no pun intended) Kuroki died by repeatedly stabbing himself in the eyeball with a pen.

Ouch.

Letting his voyeuristic tendencies take over, Takuyoshi quickly becomes obsessed with Kuroki's demise and, more importantly, the look of absolute terror on his face in those final moments.

What was he looking at? and did it cause him to take his life?

Takuyoshi has to know the answer.

Spending his every waking moment watching and re-watching the footage he suddenly notices that Kuroki is starting to stare at him from the screen (gah) and - if that wasn't freaky enough - new high speed images of bald bug eyed women (writhing in and out of big steel doors) begin appear on the video tape leading Takuyoshi to consider that whatever led Kuroki to take his own life must be living somewhere in the station.

Photobucket
Watch out watch out
there's a binman about!




Now to you or I this may seem like a bizarre jump of logic but to Takuyoshi this makes perfect sense (which is possibly a good thing as far as movie plots go, I mean imagine it if he spent the rest of the film going "Fuck me....it's almost like this video is moving! I really should get out more..maybe even get a girlfriend").


Returning to the station and armed only with his trusty camera, a Derek Acorah mug and a warm hat, Takuyoshi carefully makes his way down to the basement (who knew that underground stations have basements?....I thought that, by default it would all be basement) in search of a wee bit of suicide-based spooky shenanigans.

Much to his (but obviously not our) amazement, Takuyoshi comes across the exact same steel door from his dream (but alas no saucy bald girls....yet) which when opened reveals a staircase that seems to go down into the very bowels of the earth itself...

Exploring deeper and deeper into the tunnels Takuyoshi is fairly surprised (but incredibly calm) when Kurokito turns up to inform him that he has, in fact, entered the land of the dead.

The real one that is, not the George A. Romero film.

Photobucket
Light your way with a Ronco Nipple Lite!


As the mismatched (and odd numbered eyed) pair travel deeper into the tunnels Kurokito treats the audience at home to what seems like days of subtitled chat regarding everything from the Hollow Earth theory to Illuminati conspiracies, as well as giving Takuyoshi some advice on how to dodge a Deros if he should bump into one on his travels.

In case you're wondering the Deros are a species of short sighted blood drinking beasts that inhabit the caves that may, at some point look like sexy laydees (it's worth making a mental note of that as it may become important later).

Is this all making sense?

None of this weirdness even remotely freaks out old Takuyoshi tho' as he continues stomping ever downwards eventually reaching a huge cavern overlooking a dark abyss (but then again, what other kind of abyss is there?). The cavern, amusingly named the Mountains of Madness (twinned with Basall Heath no doubt) is completely empty apart from a quite foxy young lady (Miyashita) chained to a wall by her (very slender) ankle.

Obviously forgetting the conversation he had with Kurokito only moments earlier (and not even taking a moment to wonder why she's chained up) Takuyoshi frees the young woman and takes her home for a Cuppa Soup and a bag of cheese and onion Ringos.

Aw.....what a sweetie.

Photobucket
it's Ron Resrie!



Forgetting his pervy peeping tom past (well kinda) he begins to teach the strange woman what it is to be human (but luckily not in a cheesy Star Trek stylee) and even goes as far as to give her a name.

Well he calls her F.

No one said he was in any way imaginative did they?

Photobucket
Beware the love cats!



It's then that stuff starts going completely hatstand.

Whenever he checks up on her using his camera phone (well old habits die hard) Takuyoshi is certain that he can see her talking to someone in the background and not only that but he's absolutely positive that he's being followed by a spooky pale man in aviators.

Any of this would be enough to frighten even Yvette Fielding but Takuyoshi is made of sterner stuff, until that is, he's confronted by a strange (is there anyone who isn't in this movie?) woman on the stairs of his apartment block.

It appears that the other underworld residents are a wee bit pissed off that he's taken one of their own to the surface and, if he doesn't return her soon she will die.

Horribly.

Needing a stiff drink after all this major plot development he returns home to find his lady friend sprawled across the carpet in a death-like trance.

Rewinding thru' the footage from his in-house surveillance cameras he finds that both have stopped recording before anything remotely interesting happened (not even a hint of white pants, damn them) but before he can do anything else his phone starts ringing.

Never having any phone calls Takuyoshi excitedly answers only to have a deep voiced (and maybe deep throated...who knows?) man ordering him to return the woman to her rightful home.

Or else.

Photobucket
You can't give booze to the baby!



What on earth will Takuyoshi do?

Will he return the woman and quietly go back to his world of perving or will he ignore all the warning signs and continue to sit and gaze lustfully at his new roomie?

And will the fact that Takuyoshi has discovered that his new pal needs fresh blood to survive affect his decision in any way (remembering what he was told earlier)?

Or is there something way more sinister afoot?

Photobucket
Gums in mah mooth!




Takashi Shimizu redeems himself after the fucking awful US Ju-on remake with this spooky lil' adaptation of Chiaki (super screenwriter of The Sleeping Bride, Digimon and Ultraman Tiga among other cool stuff) Konaka's first novel.

Throwing common sense out of the window and concentrating on stylish visuals and creepy sounds Shimizu delivers a fantastically satisfying mix of Argento cool and Lovecraftian horror topped off with a smattering of early Roman Polanski whilst taking its backstory and premise from real world myths and legends means that although at times the movie seems to slow down to an incredibly meandering pace you know this means that something even stranger and more disturbing is about to happen.

Usually involving alternate realities and parrallel dimensions (which makes a change from long haired ghost girls I guess).

Photobucket
(dead) eye son.



Forgoing cheap frights and gore for a more cerebral approach to it's scares, Marebito delivers a fair few uncomfortable moments and disturbing images that will stay with you long after the movie has ended (well at least that night depending how drunk you are) and although never scaling the dizzyingly shite-scary heights of the original Ju-On: The Grudge is still worth a couple of quids rental in anybodies book (except maybe Rob Zombie who would no doubt want to remake it with his missis and a cast of midgets).



No comments: