Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Film Review: Haze (2005)

Haze (Review)
Japan/2005
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Prime Instant Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes 

"...a film with nightmarish visuals that you can interpret for yourself."

A man (Shinya Tsukamoto) wakes up in a claustrophobic concrete maze and subsequently attempts to escape and recollect the moments prior.

Haze is a very short film, or at least the original 25 minute cut that I viewed for this review is short. So, I'll try to keep the review short. The story follows this nameless man as he moves through this bizarre maze. He experiences nightmarish visions and brutal torture. He attempts to recover his memory and find out why he's trapped. Is he a war prisoner? A victim of a sick pervert? A victim of a cult? What we get is a story and visuals that I believe are open to interpretation -- and I loved that aspect. The ending is very effective and haunting in this manner.

This is far from a traditional Japanese horror film, like Ju-on and Ringu. It's a film that builds an ominous and engaging atmosphere. It's a film with nightmarish visuals that you can interpret for yourself. It's a film with minimal story and character that has more contemplative value than most feature length films nowadays. The maze itself was a little complicated to follow, I don't really think it follows the rules of gravity. It still effectively creates a dreadful claustrophobic feeling, though.

Shinya Tsukamoto is good in showing pain and fear, and his monologues sound genuine and natural. The film is as dark in cinematography as it is in subject-matter. Sometimes it's hard to see what's going on, which is why I got momentarily lost in this maze. Some of the shaky camerawork was also occasionally nauseating. I like the industrial sounds its uses for music; I'm a big fan of Silent Hill, so I love these sounds. Director Shinya Tsukamoto, who also plays the lead, does well in crafting the horror in this film; the focus on atmosphere, visuals, and psychology is refreshing.

Overall, Haze is a great short horror film. The horror is very refreshing, especially for the region. The story and character, despite being minimalistic, are engaging and thought-provoking. It's all-around a very effective horror film. There are some technical aspects I did not like, though. Definitely worth seeking for fans with an open-mind.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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