Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Film Review: The Booth (2005)

The Booth (Review)
Japan/2005
Format Viewed For Review: DVD (Tartan Asia Extreme)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...one of the most overlooked and underappreciated Japanese horror films..."

Arrogant radio DJ Shingo (Ryuta Sato) temporarily broadcasts his call-in show from Studio 6, a booth with a haunting past...

The Booth is a very straightforward and simple story. The story follows Shingo as he regularly hosts his call-in show. However, it becomes irregular when the call begin to spark some of his memories and as a mysterious voice cuts in to call him a liar. Is it the haunting of the booth? Is he being sabotaged by his co-workers? Or has his own past remerged to haunting him? The story pieces together very well up to an interesting, although somewhat contrived, climax. The story does lose some momentum towards the end, but the ending itself was decent.

I found the simplicity of The Booth to be very attractive. Even as the film jumps from flashback to the present, and vice versa, the storytelling never lost me. It's very clear and concise -- some plot points are strange, but I was never actually confused. The storytelling also kept me engaged and interested. The horror was the main treat, but the mystery was actually mysterious -- I didn't know where it was headed, despite the simplicity.

As for horror, this isn't a "jump-out-and-scare-you" horror film. It does have a handful of loud noise jump-scares, but The Booth is more of a slow-burn. It builds up nail-biting suspense and tension, it has some subtle and spooky visuals, and it's engulfed in an ominous and eerie atmosphere. And, I absolutely loved the latter; the focus on a terrifying and immersive atmosphere allows the audience to genuinely feel like they're in the haunted booth with Shingo. If you like suspenseful films, this is for you.

The acting is great from the entire cast. Ryuta Sato does very well in the role; one second he's the charismatic DJ, the next he is the arrogant person that plays the charismatic DJ. I liked the film's photography and style; I especially loved the introduction. The music also helps create the creepy-vibe of the film; it is sort of a standard horror soundtrack, but it definitely works well with the film. The English subtitles on the DVD are great, I didn't notice any significant flaws. Director Yoshihiro Nakamura expertly crafts a suspenseful and atmospheric horror film; however, it does lose some momentum towards the end and some plot points are strange, to say the least.

Overall, The Booth is a great horror film. It's not an in-your-face horror film, and I genuinely enjoy that. As a big fan of slow-burn and atmospheric horror, this was a surprising treat. The Booth is one of the most overlooked and underappreciated Japanese horror films I've ever seen -- it stands next to classics like Ringu and Ju-on: The Grudge.

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

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