Thursday, April 3, 2014

Film Review: The Locker 2 (2004)

The Locker 2 (Review)
Japan/2004
Format Viewed For Review: DVD (Geneon Entertainment)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...more accessible and enjoyable for the typical horror fan than the first installment."

Picking up directly after the event of the first film, Rieka's student, Ayano (Maki Horikita), begins to explore the mysterious locker in Shibuya that is said to grant your loving wish... but is is enchanted or cursed?

The Locker 2 is more of the same. The first twenty minutes of the film move at a very slow pace and setup the new plot -- but it moves at an unnecessarily slow pace and it's filled with flashbacks to the previous film. At about the 20 minute mark, though, the film becomes more of a traditional horror film. Ayano wants to know what happened to Rieka and her friends, as do the doctors that treated them, and they are lead back to an ominous locker. Said to be enchanted and lucky, the locker is actually cursed and causes the users a nightmarish experience. The ending of the film is great -- it's a bit abrupt and a little unfulfilling, but it's also eerie and ominous.

As I previously stated, it really doesn't feel like anything happens during the first twenty minutes other than a recounting of the first film and some setup for this installment. Afterward, the film throws everything it can at the audience: eerie sounds, creepy visuals, jolting jump-scares, and some disturbing violence. It's horror is less atmospheric and less slow-burn, and more mainstream and traditional this time around. So, The Locker 2 feels like it'll be more accessible and enjoyable for the typical horror fan than the first installment. Personally, I did enjoy this type of horror, especially how consistent it is in this film, but found the first film had a longer lasting effect and more proper organization. Regardless, most J-horror fans will feel right at home.

The acting is good. Maki Horikita does very well as the lead -- none of the characters are really fleshed-out, but Horikita does very well, regardless. The music is also great whenever it played, some ominous and lively tunes. The film is shot competently. I like the makeup on the ghost, a bit more original than your typical Asian ghost. There's one scene with some bad computer graphics, fortunately it only lasts a second or two. Kei Horie does well as the director, bring more variety into the horror this time around -- some scenes lacked suspense, though, and it's noticeable because it occasionally feels like nothing is going on.

Overall, The Locker 2 is a very good J-horror film. The first twenty minutes are barely decent due to the flashbacks, but the rest of the film is a consistent and versatile horror ride. And, despite lacking some of the burn of the original, this installment feels more enjoyable and entertaining. It's a great piece of pair with the first as they both offer different types of horror and are based on the same urban legend.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence.

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