Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Film Review: Gurozuka (2005)

Gurozuka (Review)
Japan/2005
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes 

"...is a great way to kill a night..."

In Japan, Maki and Ai restart their school's movie club 7 years after it was shutdown - the club was supposedly closed after a member disappeared and another was hospitalized due to a nervous breakdown. Now, Maki and Ai, along with several others, plan on making a horror film based on the rumor at a secluded lodge...

Gurozuka is an interesting horror film. The story doesn't venture into unexplored territory, usually staying on a safe, traditional horror path. The story mostly follows Maki and Ai as they try to recreate the events of the past; they tell the group the rumor in an urban legend fashion. They bicker with the others about what was promised and so on. Eventually, they slowly begin to disappear and are attacked; everyone is a suspect, but evidence of foul play is nonexistent. The revelation occurs, but leaves many questions unanswered; I'd say the ending is open for interpretation. I actually enjoyed the story.

Gurozuka often uses its eerie antagonist, its light suspense, and its secluded environment to create terror. However, the film is most heavily reliant on jump-scares. I actually enjoyed most of the jump-scares, especially when they included the antagonist. Although the film often slows the pace down, some scenes send barrage you with jump-scares. (I mean: jump-scare after jump-scare after jump-scare.) The horror is traditional, it doesn't really ooze style or atmosphere like other Japanese horror film but it will be familiar to most horror fans. The horror is great for those fans of jump-scares, but there isn't much variety or depth; it ends up being a one-trick pony, and that one trick isn't exactly consistent throughout the entire film. (not a significantly bad thing since it leaves room for a few other great scenes.)

The acting is good - not spectacular or terrible, simply good. The writing is solid - the story was well balanced, and the dialogue was smooth. The direction was okay, there really wasn't much direction. The antagonist, particularly the mask, was great - it was eerily designed and effectively used. The music was mostly great, as was the sound editing; I liked that it tried something new, not exactly horror at all times. Technically, the film is simply good.

Overall, Gurozuka is a good horror film. Featuring an interesting story, a creepy antagonist, and a barrage of effective jump-scares, Gurozaka is a great way to kill a night. It's not perfect, and it doesn't strive to be more, but it's just enough. I strongly recommend a rental or stream for fans of the genre.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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