Friday, October 9, 2015

Film Review: Reincarnation (2005)

Reincarnation (Review)
Japan/2005
Format Viewed For Review: DVD
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: Yes
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...manages to leave an impression of terror and dread..."

Actress Nagisa Sugiura (Yūka) suffers from terrifying visions of the past after she lands a role in a film surrounding a notorious murder case...

Reincarnation primarily follows Nagisa Sugiura. Nagisa is an up-and-coming actress who lands a role in a murky film. Said film tells the tale of college professor Norihasa Omori, who killed his children, hotel guests and employees, and himself 35 years ago. As the film begins production, Nagisa has visions of Norihasa's murders, particularly the murder of his daughter, which leads her to believe she is her reincarnation. Simultaneously, Reincarnation tells the story of Yayoi Kinoshita (Karina Nose), a college student suffering from similar visions. It can feel a bit fragmented due to the several characters and the splintering/colliding timelines, but it ultimately closes up well. I wasn't lost at all by the end. The ending is, in fact, haunting. 


Reincarnation is a great Japanese horror film. The story is both positively and negatively affected by the fragmented storytelling. On one hand, you have an engaging and creative narrative. On the other hand, it can be a bit jarring at times. As I said, it ultimately works out, but it could have been much smoother. It just really feels inefficient at times. That's really my only significant complaint for the plot. The horror is fantastic. Be warned now, though: it is a slow-burner.

Reincarnation utilizes every horror element in the book — except gore, I suppose. The ambiance is creepy from the very beginning. The atmosphere pulls you into the film and never lets you go. The slow-burn pace works excellently throughout most of the film, creating genuinely suspenseful sequences. In turn, thanks to the masterful suspense, the jump-scares actually work — a grand accomplishment. On top of that, you also have a handful of extremely creepy visuals — if you are petrified of dolls, you're in for a (scary) treat. All of these elements create a very versatile and enjoyable horror film.

The acting was also great. Although the film jumps through many perspectives, Yūka is our leading lady and she's great. Yūka delivers the right emotions through facial expressions, body movements, and tone of voice — really in tune with the horror. The film is shot well, capturing frames of gloomy terror and developing an ominous atmosphere. The camerawork was also great. I liked the music at first, but it was too repetitive and it occasionally clashed with the mood — it felt like something more magical than terrifying. Takashi Shimizu directs while sharing writing credits with Masaki Adachi. Although there are some storytelling issues, the pair craft a very engaging narrative with interesting themes. Takashi delivers a great audio-visual horror experience.

Overall, Reincarnation is a great film. Much like The Booth, I'm surprised this Japanese horror film doesn't get more attention. It's a slow-burner, so it may not be for everyone, but it is also a truly frightening film. It manages to leave an impression of terror and dread — something many horror films can't do nowadays. If you can tolerate a slow-pace and don't mind some fragmented storytelling, you have to watch this film — especially if you're a fan of J-horror.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, disturbing images.

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