Wednesday, October 25, 2017

a nightmare on pigeon street.

Day 25 of 31 days of horror is as good an excuse as any to revisit probably one of the best found footage movies ever.

And one of the most downright spooky films full stop.

Let's not beat around the bush here, on the surface Noroi may have all the hallmarks (and warning signs) of a formulaic Ringu/Blair Witch/Last Broadcast rip-off; the recently rediscovered documentary footage, mysterious video tapes et al but fear not, because director Koji Shiraishi (of Grotesque fame) has taken a pinch of each of these influences and fashioned them into a movie that is frankly far more effective (and creepy) than any one of them.

Noroi: The Curse (2005).
Dir: Koji Shiraishi.
Cast: Jin Muraki, Rio Kanno, Maria Takagi, Marika Matsumoto, Tomomi Eguchi, Hiroshi Aramata, Tomono Kuga and Satoru Jitsunashi.

"I want the truth. No matter how terrifying, I want the truth."

Well known celebrity paranormal investigator, the cheerfully chubby, cake shop loving Masafumi Kobayashi (Nightmare Detective's Muraki) host a weekly show called "Wahey it's a ghost!" on Tokyo's top teevee channel garnering sky high ratings every week.

Just imagine a slightly less ginger Yvette Fielding with bigger (and better) tits, a bowl haircut and less bullshit.

He has a loyal following, a lovely wife and a fine line in waterproof jackets but all this will be put to the test (especially the jackets) as he and his loyal cameraman Jeff start an investigation into a mysterious phenomenon known simply as 'Noroi'.

Or as we English speakers would say 'The Curse'.

You see, not long after completing the project, Kobayashi's house burns to the ground killing his wife and our intrepid reporter disappears off the face of the earth.

All that remains are the tapes he made during the course of the investigation and, as the voice-over informs us, we are about to see them for the first time.

"Welcome to fright night!" as Craig Charles would say just before he jumps out of a cupboard wearing a hideous jumper.


Yvette Fielding: Ginger.

Anyway I digress so let's head back, way back to the halcyon days of November 2002, when Kobayashi was busy interviewing a fairly hot single mum and her small daughter about the spooky goings on next door.

It seems that the pair have been hearing what sounds like scary crying babies coming from the house next door.

Popping round for a quick nosy around Kobayashi is greeted by the house's occupants, a raggedy haired, mental woman (the usually foxy Kuga from Invisible Waves) shouting utter bollocks at anyone who'll listen and a small pig nosed boy named Trevor who spends his days staring out of the window into next doors kitchen.

Sounds a wee bit like my old neighbours.

Before getting chased away with a broom, Kobayashi's camera guy manages to pick up a strange noise on tape and our hero excitedly takes it to be analyzed by a clever science of sound man.

After much technical jiggery and a wee bit of scientific pokery the sound guy manages to identify the noises coming from the house.

It turns out to be the sound of five babies crying in unison.


Heading back to the house in order to follow up this disturbing development, Kobayashi finds that the gruesome twosome have moved out.

And it appears that they have taken the noises with them.

Unfortunately for the local bin men they've left all their rubbish - and a pile of dead pigeons - behind in the garden.

Rifling thru' the aforementioned trash (and obviously avoiding the huge piles of bird shit), Kobayashi discovers that the name of the mentalist mum is one Junko Ishii and files away this information in case it proves useful later.

You think?

On a sadder note he also discovers that the nice next-door neighbour and her little poppet of a daughter ended up killed (to death) in a car crash less than a week after Kobayashi's visit.

Hmmm, could this be related?

Kobayashi spots a giant marzipan house.

We've no time to ask as the documentary jumps back to show clips from an episode of  Kobayashi's show that focused on children with ESP.

Which is a much more entertaining prospect than Junior Masterchef if I'm honest.

Out of the ten kids being tested, it's pigtailed princess Kana Yano (Kanno, the wee girl from Dark Water) who comes out on top, scoring the highest marks on the first four shape-drawing tests, on the fifth however instead of drawing a carrot she sketches what looks like a gimp mask with huge black eye sockets and a puckered anus for a mouth.

And if that wasn't weird enough (which to my mind it is), when she's requested to materialize some water into a sealed bottle - only using the power of the mind obviously - Kana manages this task without even breaking a sweat.

And conjures up some newborn baby hair in the jar at no extra cost.

"This is what I shite-ed in Ms!"

The next clip is from an earlier episode concentrating on celebrity ghost sightings, where a geeky ghost hunting duo (a kind of Japanese equivalent of Ant and Dec) and teevee/anime actress Marika Matsumoto - playing herself, meta or what? - are heading to Tokyo's most haunted shrine in the hope of seeing a spirit.

Or at the very least a chance of touching up Matsumoto behind the bins.

Matsumoto, all giggles, fluffy collars and big socks, confesses to being a bit of a psychic herself and having seen literally hundreds of ghosts before and being no stranger to having the willies put up her jumped at the chance to take part.

Within minutes of arriving at the shrine things take a turn for the worst as Matsumoto gets spooked by an eerie voice before falling to the ground and wriggling about like your nan having a stroke.

Matsumoto: no caption needed.

Later at an after show party for the cast and crew, Kobayashi interviews Matsumoto about the evenings events but she has absolutely no recollection of the incident save for hearing a man's voice whispering the word Kagutaba to her.

Luckily Kobayashi has invited the famous tinfoil-clad Autistic psychic and self proclaimed protector of humanity from ecto-plasmic worms Mitsuo Hori (Jitsunashi from Ju-on: The Grudge 2) to come and explain everything.

This doesn't really go to plan tho' as Hori runs on stage and attempts to strangle Matsumoto (whilst shouting shouting "Watch out for the pigeons!") as opposed to helping her.

An easy mistake to make I'm sure you'll agree.

Kobayashi tho', being a clever bloke - or having read the script - makes the bird based connection between the dead pigeons and Hori's warning and decides to dig a little deeper, going back to check out the shrine tapes.

Lo and behold on further viewing keen eyed Kobayashi spots a ghostly figure standing in the distant behind Matsumoto, a figure whose face bears a striking resemblance to the picture drawn by Kana the psychic girl.

Heading out to see her Kobayashi is shocked to find that the poor lamb has gone missing.

And that the last person to see her was behatted mentalist Mitsuo Hori.

"Million dollars or bomb? YOU decide!"

With a more and more shot to fuck Matsumoto in tow, Kobayashi rushes to Hori's apartment in the hope of garnering any information on the small girls whereabouts and to see if the psychic has any knowledge of the mysterious Kagutaba.

And from his reaction to being asked what it means I reckon he does, seeing as he literally poohs himself and hides in a giant toilet roll tube before falling into a trace and sketching a map showing Kana's location.

Kobayashi has no choice but to follow Hori's map if he's to have any chance of finding the missing girl and discovering the connection between the mysterious Kagutaba and the frankly pant filling events occurring around him.

"Hand in mah mooth!"

But he's gonna haveta get a move on, seeing as everyone and anyone, no matter how tenuously linked to the investigation is either disappearing without a trace or dying in a variety of bizarre ways.

Will Kobayashi discover the truth before he himself becomes a victim of the curse?

Frankly no, seeing as the film established that fact in it's opening minutes.

But don't let that put you off.

Playing out like a Japanese Ghostwatch with it's mix of fictitious characters and 'celebrity' cameos - everyone from the aforementioned anime voice-over queen Marika Matsumo to former AV girl and star of the classic Illegal Tits Violation 15, Maria Takagi via J-Pop gods Gokyu - Noroi doesn't try to be big, clever or re-invent the mockumentary genre, it's whole reason for being is just to deliver some scares.

Which it indeed does in bucket loads.

Jin Muraki is an instantly likeable lead and Satoru Jitsunash takes the tic-ridden   Mitsuo Hori, a role that could have been (over) played for laughs and makes him incredibly sympathetic.

With well over twenty five speaking characters and a running time of over two hours, Noroi has an unusually leisurely pace that builds the tension little by little, slowly unraveling the meaning of Kagutaba in such a way that you become totally (and unexpectedly) drawn into mystery, not realizing how far it's burrowed under your skin before it's too late.

"Do you require any scissors sharpening?"

Noroi is quite simply put a good old fashioned scary film, perfectly made with just one thought in mind; to make the viewer fill their trousers.

And you really can't ask for more from a horror movie can you?


Traveller28 said...

Sir, you are a force of evil. I cannot get Long Distance (Lesbian) Clara out of my head now...

or this earworm of the most shittering badger shagging fuck crumble piffle.

A pox on thee ;)

Ashton Lamont said...

It could be worse you could be haunted by Granny Murray's theme from Me Too!

Traveller28 said...

Jebus Crust, no!

Cop this!

Ashton Lamont said...

Best Dagostini magazine ever!